New Jersey Veterans win the right to medicate with cannabis, but at what cost?
While New Jersey Veterans finally have access to cannabis as a safer alternative to pharmaceuticals for the treatment of PTSD, there are barriers in the law that still make it complicated for veterans to have access to medicine today! On September 14th, Governor Christie, signed a bill into law which added post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of conditions that would qualify people for medical marijuana. This was after he sat on the bill for three weeks before finally signing the bill into law.
The law states a patient must attempt traditional approaches to treating PTSD, before they can be approved for cannabis. This is like saying to a veteran, we know that this can work for you, but you need to try these higher-risk treatments first. This only keeps funneling money to pharmaceutical companies, which is why this country is in an opiate crisis. Additionally, veterans must see a state approved doctor at least three times prior to receiving access to cannabis. Obviously, these appointments are cash only! Unlike other states, I guess Veteran Affairs medical records aren’t enough to prove diagnosis in New Jersey.
“That a veteran would say here is how it makes me feel, the argument that you have no proof that what you say is true is a slap in the face to any veteran who honorably served,” said Jim Miller, president of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana in New Jersey. The first step to proving cannabis is safe, is allowing people to have access to it while removing the stigmas associated to it.
Many others have been in this situation before it was legal here in Connecticut. For years, I took the advice from local and Veteran Affairs doctors. You have to take these drugs which make you feel like a zombie, these same drugs were ruining my life. Sleeping time away, because I couldn’t stay awake during the day. I had to plan my life around the medicine, not the reverse. Wanting my life back and to be “me” again, I took the stance and became a cannabis patient. Since then, I haven’t looked back. This was not possible with the traditional medical approach to PTSD. It’s like the doctors want you doped up so you don’t do anything. The problem for me, I found myself getting more depressed and unhappy with life.
Christie touts, “The mere potential of abuse by some should not deter the state from taking action that may ease the daily struggles of veterans and others who legitimately suffer from PTSD.” While I’m happy to see steps being made toward the larger federal reform, I’m taken back by comments like Gov. Christie’s. “Potential of Abuse” what does that mean? Is this his way of saying addiction…because I know a lot of people that are addicted to many things. You can be addicted to alcohol, food, or even the gym etc. Based on statements like this, someone could argue we need to ban everything that has the potential for abuse, which is ridiculous.
New Jersey has one of the most strict medical marijuana programs in the country. You can’t grow your own medical marijuana, and there are a very limited number of medical marijuana dispensaries in New Jersey, not unlike Connecticut. The dispensaries run out of medicine often, and from what I’ve heard, the medical marijuana isn’t very good. But regardless of the quality of the medical marijuana in New Jersey, one thing is for sure – it’s very expensive.
New Jersey Stats
New Jersey is the 18th state to allow medical marijuana to be used to treat PTSD. New Jersey is home to an estimated 428,000 veterans. Up to 20 percent of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans, up to 10 percent of Gulf War veterans, and up to 30 percent of Vietnam War veterans have experienced PTSD, according to the U.S. Veterans Administration.
New Jersey is tied for second for the costliest registration fee ($200 for two years), looks like they are tied with Connecticut. Atleast Connecticut has seven open dispensaries, compared to the five in New Jersey.