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Lack Of Studies Cited By Arizona As Reason To Oppose Medical Marijuana For PTSD


Arizona State CapitalWhen It Comes To Medical Marijuana And PTSD Many Politicians Want To Stick Their Head In The Ground And Deny Reality

When you read marijuana news every day for a living, you begin to notice disturbing trends in the sensationalism used to cover the issue. Take this most recent example for the state of Arizona, where patient advocates are trying to get the state to recognize PTSD, anxiety, depression, and migraine as qualifying conditions for legal medical marijuana use.

First we start with the misleading headline, “Medical benefits of marijuana in dispute”. Ah, so someone has uncovered some research to show medical marijuana doesn’t really work, eh? Your curiosity piqued, you continue to the lede paragraph:

TUCSON, Ariz. – A new University of Arizona study shows little or no evidence that medical marijuana is an effective treatment for anxiety, migraines, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, a finding that could hinder efforts to expand the allowable uses for the drug in this state.

Wait a minute, that’s not evidence medical marijuana doesn’t work. That’s lack of evidence to show it does work. Huge difference, don’t you think? If you walk me into a red room with a blindfold on, I will have no evidence as to the color of the room, but that won’t make the room any less red, will it?

The researchers, working on behalf of the state Department of Health Services that oversees the state’s medical-marijuana program, reviewed dozens of scientific studies related to marijuana use for the four medical conditions and determined that most of the research was of little value in weighing the medicinal risks and benefits.

So it isn’t that the “medical benefits of marijuana [are]in dispute”, it is that the quality of research is in dispute. And we all know why there is a dearth of legitimate research into the medical efficacy of cannabis for PTSD, anxiety, depression, and migraine.

Arizona health officials and medical-marijuana advocates agree the lack of scientific research is in large part because of restrictions on research of some controlled substances.

This, of course, works out perfectly for Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and State Program Director Will Humble. They have long opposed the medical marijuana program and would rather open their border to Mexico than expand the list of conditions for which sick people could avoid being imprisoned for their medicine. Humble points out that the program serving 31,000 patients would add another 15,000 more if PTSD alone were added. Oh no! Sheriff Joe Arpaio and other cops won’t be able to harass, arrest, and imprison thousands of Iraq & Afghanistan and Vietnam Vets and victims of trauma they catch with a joint! Humble even tries to paint himself as the rational, neutral bureaucrat on the issue:

“The key question for us is: Do the benefits outweigh the risks?” said Will Humble, state health director. “And there’s just not that much research in this area to help form our policy decisions.”

“My goal is not to add things or not add things,” he said. “It’s to look at evidence and make a responsible decision.”

So the standard here will be that marijuana is dangerous and even though Arizona is allowing it for cancer, AIDS, and MS patients, there may be some risk in giving it to people with PTSD, anxiety, depression, or migraine? Marijuana — the drug so dangerous we can only give it to the frailest patients!

You’d think Arizona could just look across its borders to California and New Mexico. Both states have allowed the use of medical cannabis to treat PTSD for years now, and to the best of my recollection, I’ve heard no tales of terrible consequences for the veterans and trauma victims who used it. California famously allows for cannabis use for “any other illness for which marijuana provides relief”, including anxiety, depression, and migraine. Yet we’ve seen no wave of adverse reactions from these patients, no overdose deaths.

Yes, marijuana, that benign herb with a 5,000 year history of medical use, the drug a DEA Administrative Law Judge declared two-dozen years ago to be “the safest therapeutically active substance known to man,” that’s the one Will Humble must apply a strict risk/benefit analysis to. Meanwhile, thousands of Arizonans will be taking FDA-approved drugs like Carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Equetro, Tegretol, Tegretol XR), Felbamate (Felbatol), Gabapentin (Neurontin), Lamotrigine (Lamictal), Levetiracetam (Keppra), Oxcarbazepine (Trileptal), Pregabalin (Lyrica), Tiagabine (Gabitril), Topiramate (Topamax), Valproate (Depakote, Depakote ER, Depakene, Depacon), and Zonisamide (Zonegran)1 for treatment of their anxiety, depression or migraine headaches. These drugs have been shown in placebo-controlled scientific studies to double the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior, yet the FDA didn’t even recall them, they merely added a warning to the label that taking these drugs might make you suicidal.

So, really, Will Humble, you need some more evidence that depressed people can safely use cannabis, until then, they have to take the pills that make them more suicidal?


1. The next time someone makes fun “Alaskan Thunderfuck” and other strains as names for medicine, just read this list of drugs to them. It’s like a Scrabble bag loaded with extra X’s and Z’s just exploded. At least I can spell and pronounce “thunderfuck”!

This article was published with special permission from the National Cannabis Coalition


About Author

Executive Director: Russ Belville has been active in Oregon marijuana reform since 2005, when he was elected second-in-command of the state affiliate, Oregon NORML. After four years with Oregon NORML, Russ was hired by National NORML in 2009, working as Outreach Coordinator and hosting the NORML Daily Audio Stash podcast until 2012. Since then, Russ launched the 420RADIO marijuana legalization network and is the host of The Russ Belville Show, a live daily marijuana news talk radio program. Russ is also a prolific writer, with over 300 articles posted online and in print in HIGH TIMES, Huffington Post, Alternet, The Weed Blog, Marijuana Politics, and more.


  1. tothemoonalice2002 on

    Cannabis Kills Cancer, and treats a whole lot more … that`s what`s going on here. They know it. Big Pharma, Zombie Drug Laundering Banks, and the CIA are horrified.
    Look for more “Cannabis Patsies” in the future.

    They will stop at nothing because there is massive cash involved here. After all can`t have the dreaded “Killer Weed” curing disease as a plant we could grow in our own backyard …..

    Cannabinoids, Miracle Drug of the 21st Century by Jeffrey Dach MD

    What if Cannabis Cured Cancer?

    U.S. Patent # 6630507

    Granny Storm Crows List ( 700+ studies)https://www.greenpassion.org/index.php?%2Ftopic%2F13003-granny-storm-crows-mmj-reference-list-jan2010%2F

    Rick Simpson Run From The Cure (Second Edition)

    Shona Banda – Live Free or Die

    Cured: A Cannabis Story (A Film By David Triplett)

    Dennis Hill, Biochemist Cures his Cancer with Cannabinoid Oil

  2. Thorne Peters on

    We don’t need an expensive probe into CANNABIS to know its effects . . . we can figure it out all on our own. We know how WE feel when WE to smoke CANNABIS. Nuff said. That is all the study we need FRIENDS INDEED.

  3. Sheriff Joe Arpaio is a veteran of the DEA going way back. He has operated overseas. Which means he is a CIA adjunct. He is not just some tough cop. He is integral to the power and control system run by both parties in America. Despite the will of the people.

    And keep this in mind – we have two progressive parties in America. Democrats and Christian Democrats. Ever noticed how they end up doing the same thing despite different rhetoric? The only way out? Shrink government. Don’t give them the power to do good because they will use it to do evil. The alternative is a police state (even more than we have now). The libertarians are right.

  4. Dr. Raphael Mechoulam (sp?) in Israel has done extensive work on the subject. So much so that some Israeli veterans are now allowed to use pot for PTSD. BTW the Dr. found the THC molecule and invented a way to synthesize it so he might know a few things on the subject. I believe he does his work in conjunction with a hospital in America. Beth Israel in New Jersey IIRC. But in any case you can look it up.

  5. esotericknowledge on

    Ah, thanks for exposing the reality in the fog. I knew the headline was bogus when I saw it. It’s to the point that you can just assume people are lying when it’s anti-marijuana hysterical propaganda.

  6. eating_sunshine on

    The time is fast approaching when reefer madness BS will no longer be politically tenable.

  7. Not a war vet, but I have PTSD that is pretty disabling. Without cannabis I would be dead, no joke.

  8. As a person who went to Iraq and has suffered from PTSD because of it, I find that weed is better than the 14 medications I have been on in the past 8 years. The only side effect I have suffered is continual harassment from the law. The law causes more harm to me then the weed and just about the same harm done by the medications. Now only if I can leave the state of NJ, but I can’t until probation is done.

  9. As a person who went to Iraq and has suffered from PTSD because of it, I find that weed is better than the 14 medications I have been on in the past 8 years. The only side effect I have suffered is continual harassment from the law. The law causes more harm to me then the weed and just about the same harm done by the medications. Now only if I can leave the state of NJ, but I can’t until probation is done.

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