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Politics

Treating PTSD: Expansion of medical marijuana to get hearing

Treating PTSD: Expansion of medical marijuana to get hearing
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SALEM, Ore. (AP) — When the Legislature convenes next week, a Senate committee will hear public testimony on a proposal to allow people with post-traumatic stress disorder to get medical marijuana cards.

Proponents say the drug could help veterans with PTSD manage their symptoms. They say some people with PTSD already have medical marijuana cards due to other medical conditions.

Oregon law allows people with specific medical conditions to apply for a medical marijuana card, including Alzheimer's, cancer, glaucoma and AIDS. The bill would add PTSD to the list of conditions that qualify.

Critics of the medical marijuana program have long fought expansions to the list.

Republican state Sen. Brian Boquist introduced the bill on behalf of a constituent but said he didn't have an opinion of the measure one way or the other. His constituent, Todd Dalotto of Philomath, said he sought the measure after state public health officials twice rejected requests to include PTSD in the medical marijuana program. Dalotto is a member of the Advisory Committee on Medical Marijuana, a panel created by the Legislature to advise state officials.

"The lack of recognition of PTSD as a qualifying condition...has been one of our top complaints about how patients are underserved," Dalotto said.

Michael Krawitz, director of a Virginia-based group called Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access, said marijuana can help people suffering from PTSD find balance in their lives. Military suicides reached a record 349 last year.

"It's not like we have a silver bullet in the medicine cabinet," Krawitz said. "They're struggling to treat these people."

The Senate Health Care and Human Services committee is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the measure Feb. 7 in Salem.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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