By Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director
Patients diagnosed with post-traumatic stress, Crohn's disease, and other debilitating disorders will now be eligible for cannabis therapy, under legislation approved yesterday absent the Governor's signature.
The new law expands the list of qualifying conditions for which a Maine physician may legally recommend cannabis to include "post-traumatic stress disorder," "inflammatory bowel disease" (such as Crohn's and/or ulcerative colitis), and "dyskinetic and spastic movement disorders and other diseases causing severe and persistent muscle spasms" (such as Parkinson's disease and/or Huntington's disease). It is the second time that Maine legislators have acted to expand the pool of patients who may have access to medicinal cannabis.
Under state law, qualified patients in Maine may either cultivate their own cannabis or obtain it from one of eight state-licensed dispensaries.
Four states --- Connecticut, Delaware, New Mexico, and Oregon --- specifically allow for the use of cannabis to treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress. Clinical trial data published in the May issue of the journal Molecular Psychiatry theorized that cannabinoid-based therapies would likely comprise the "next generation of evidence-based treatments for PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)."
Survey data published in 2011 in the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology reports the use of cannabis therapy is common among patients with inflammatory bowel disorders. Most recently, researchers at the Meir Medical Center, Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology in Israel reported that inhaling cannabis reduces symptoms of Crohn's disease compared to placebo in patients non-responsive to traditional therapies. Investigators concluded, "Our data show that 8-weeks treatment with THC-rich cannabis, but not placebo, was associated with a significant decrease of 100 points in CDAI (Crohn's Disease and activity index) scores." (The CDIA is a research tool used to quantify the symptoms of Crohn's disease patients.) Five of the eleven patients in the study group also reported achieving disease remission (defined as a reduction in patient CDAI score by more than 150 points).