April 20, 2012

Arizona Considers Allowing Medical Marijuana For PTSD, Anxiety, Migraines, And Depression

April 20, 2012
Arizona State Capital

Arizona State CapitalMore good news for the Arizona Medical Marijuana Program on 4-20 as Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) Director, Will Humble, announced on his blog:

“The voter approved language in the AZ Medical Marijuana Act directs us to periodically accept and evaluate petitions to add new debilitating medical conditions. We’ve made it through the first phase of considering whether to add 4 new debilitating conditions 1) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; 2) Generalized Anxiety Disorder; 3) Migraines; and 4) Depression.”

If ADHS approves these new conditions, Arizona would become the first state to allow medical marijuana for anxiety and depression, join New Mexico and Delaware in allowing medical marijuana for PTSD, and be the second state after California to permit cannabis for migraines.

Director Humble went on to say, “you’ll be able to give us your thoughts about these four conditions at a public hearing next month (May 25th from 1 — 4 p.m. at our State Lab). You can read the information we already have about these four starting next week. If we decide to add PTSD or any other debilitating conditions, we want to make sure we’re on solid medical ground. I’m heading down to a conference in Tucson next weekend where physicians can get Continuing Medical Education credits for learning about medical cannabis.”

ADHS Director Will HumbleThe public hearing is one step in the process laid out in the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA), and the administrative rules promulgated by ADHS for adding debilitating conditions. ADHS accepted requests to add new conditions from January 23 to January 27. ADHS anticipates accepting additional requests during July 2012, but has not yet announced the specific application window.

Requests to add new conditions must include:

  • The name of the medical condition the entity is requesting be added.
  • A description of the symptoms and other physiological effects experienced by an individual suffering from the medical condition or a treatment of the medical condition that may impair the ability of the individual to accomplish activities of daily living
  • The availability of conventional medical treatments to provide therapeutic or palliative benefit for the medical condition or a treatment of the medical condition
  • A summary of the evidence that the use of marijuana will provide therapeutic or palliative benefit for the medical condition or a treatment of the medical condition; and
  • Articles, published in peer-reviewed, scientific journals, reporting the results of research on the effects of marijuana on the medical condition or a treatment of the medical condition supporting why the medical condition should be added.

Once an entity submits an application “ADHS will notify the requester within 30 days that the request was received. An initial review will be conducted to determine if the information provided in the request provides evidence that:

  • The specified medical condition or treatment of the medical condition impairs the ability of the individual to accomplish activities of daily living, and
  • Marijuana usage provides a therapeutic or palliative benefit to an individual suffering from the medical condition or treatment of the medical condition.”

Once a request passes initial muster, ADHS schedules a public hearing (as is happening on May 25). ADHS relies in part on the University of Arizona, Colleges of Public Health and Medicines to review the requests. According to a fact sheet posted on the ADHS website, “the University will be able to provide ADHS valuable support, including further research of each condition or treatment and summary reports with recommendations by accessing its extensive public health and medical expertise.” ADHS will either add the medical condition or provide the requester written notice of denial including “specific reasons for the denial and the process for requesting judicial review” within 180 days of the original request.

All residents of Arizona should consider this an opportunity to help their neighbors receive the relief they deserve. Cannabis is a sublime herb, with innumerable benefits. If you are a doctor, nurse, professor, patient, caregiver, or someone suffering from PTSD, depression, anxiety, or migraines, please attend the public hearing, and help guide ADHS in doing the right thing for the people of Arizona.


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