Only he who rules himself can set others free --Hermes

Free Marijuana For Veterans

First Posted: Aug. 2, 2015, 12:40 a.m. CST
Last Updated: Aug. 2, 2015, 4:25 p.m. CST


As part of their national campaign, Operation Grow for Vets gave away pot plants and products to Colorado veterans this weekend. This event comes on the regrettable heels of a state decision to exclude PTSD from diagnoses approved for medical marijuana use. I associate marijuana with unfettered leisure, and not with answers to one of psychiatry’s thorniest mental health issues. Though, both research and testimony show that marijuana helps to improve PTSD symptoms, including better sleep and more social interaction.

Okay, it’s great that we know marijuana helps with PTSD, but I wonder why this was ever researched – how did we arrive at a place in treatment exploration where it made sense to test with controversial, C1 controlled marijuana? It almost seems born out of an homage to Timothy Leary or a last-ditch attempt at an avante guarde research proposal. Marijuana seems an unlikely treatment for any psychiatric disorder, and its efficacy begs the question: what, exactly, are we treating? The answer is far more nebulous than with other psychiatric disorders, where constellations of symptoms seem related, limited in their impact, and relatively treatable.

Demonstrated treatments for PTSD symptoms include opioide receptor activation, re-exposure to traumatic memories, healing touch, meditation, sleep deprivation, and blueberries. Blueberries are possibly as effective as the leading medications prescribed for PTSD, and this makes me seriously doubt the efficacy of those medications. One problem seems to be that the origin, nature and prognosis of PTSD are dimly known. It’s the only psychiatric disorder diagnosed with an initial incident, however, symptoms can develop and sustain even when the traumatic incident is not remembered. Remembered or not, trauma can disaggregate an individual’s cognitive and emotional processing, sense of trust in the world, and sense of self. Sometimes this occurs to such an extent that past memories become overgeneralized, and imagining a clear self in a clear possible future becomes impossible. My sense is that, if we know marijuana or any other treatment works for symptoms of PTSD, it seems reckless not to invest in finding out why.



This article was written by Amy McGranahan. Amy has a background in experimental and clinical psychology, and plans to pursue a doctorate in clinical psychology. She currently works at RAND Corporation, oversees a caregiving ministry, lives in Santa Monica, California, and loves yoga.

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