Delaware lawmakers passed new legislation making it easier for patients with post-traumatic stress disorder to obtain medical marijuana.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) patients in Delaware will now have an easier time getting access to medical marijuana. Earlier this month, Governor John Carney signed into law the Bravery Bill (Senate Bill 24), which permits PTSD patients to qualify for a medical marijuana card from any properly licensed physician. Previously, PTSD patients had to receive a recommendation from a licensed psychiatrist.
“Our veterans have fought for our freedom and have enabled us to enjoy safety and a good life, so the least we can do is provide them with relief,” said State Senate Majority Leader Margaret Rose Henry, who sponsored the legislation.
PTSD is a serious mental condition that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking or traumatic event. While PTSD can affect anyone who has experienced a trauma, veterans who have been in combat are particularly susceptible to the disorder. An estimated 30 percent of Vietnam Veterans have had PTSD in their lifetime and about 11-20 percent who served in Operations Iraqi Freedom or Enduring Freedom have PTSD in a given year.
“Simply put, SB 24 will allow those suffering with PTSD to have more options other than pharmaceuticals, which can be dangerous and addictive,” said 10-year Air Force Veteran Kim Petters, President of the Women’s Veterans Collective. “The veteran community continues to experience staggering suicide rates that far outnumber the amount of troops we lose in actual combat. The veteran accidental overdose rates alone more than double the national average. And when you take a look at the veteran homeless community you’ll find at least 70 percent of homeless vets report substance abuse, most of which began with pharmaceuticals or alcohol.”
Delaware legalized medical marijuana in 2011. Under the law, registered patients can possess up to 6 ounces of medical marijuana, and purchase up to 3 ounces over a 14-day period. The state currently has two operational dispensaries and a third is slated to open this fall and a fourth sometime in 2018. Twenty-four states including Delaware have approved medical marijuana specifically for the treatment of PTSD.
According to data from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), as of September 2015 Delaware was home to 77,354 veterans. Because cannabis is classified as a Schedule I substance under federal law, VA doctors are currently prohibited from recommending medical cannabis, forcing veterans in Delaware and elsewhere to seek guidance from medical professionals that are out of network. The American Legion, the nation’s largest wartime veterans service organization, recently adopted a resolution urging federal officials to expand legal access of medical cannabis to veterans.
An earlier version of the Bravery Bill would have also added anxiety disorders to Delaware’s medical marijuana program, but that language was removed from the final bill.
You can learn more about cannabis laws in Delaware and what research has discovered about cannabis for PTSD through our research and education page. Keep up with the latest developments in the cannabis industry through our news page.