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Lawmakers Consider Medical Marijuana as Treatment for PTSD

A Kentucky legislative committee heard testimony this week from veterans who say marijuana helps them treat symptoms of their post-traumatic stress disorder. Veterans say medical marijuana would alleviate PTSD symptoms better than pharmaceutical drugs.

Danny “Greasy” Belcher is a Vietnam veteran who uses pot to deal with nightmares about his combat experiences.

“I see the dead enemy hanging in the tree,” he said. “Bodies bumping against me, [not sure if it’s] theirs or ours, if that nightmare gets so bad, I can’t wake up, I realize it’s just a nightmare, I will light that pipe up, I’ll be a criminal, I’ll go back to sleep.”

Committee co-chair Sen. Jim Higdon, a Republican from Lebanon, says medical marijuana in Kentucky is inevitable, but is unsure when and that lawmakers will need more clinical data before they make up their minds.

“Professionals to testify in favor of it would certainly be helpful, clinical tests would certainly be helpful, you know, all those things would be helpful when we make a decision,” Higdon said.

A pair of bills filed in the House and Senate that would establish a statewide medical marijuana framework have failed in recent years. Democratic Representative Mary Lou Marzian filed legislation that passed out of a health and welfare committee this year, but it died on the House floor.

But Higdon says the legislature will continue to hold more hearings on the subject throughout the year, and medical testimony will be key in getting more support from his colleagues in the Senate.

According to testimony from Veterans Affairs doctors, about 350,000 veterans suffer from PTSD nationwide, with about 18,000 in the Louisville area alone.

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