New York Veterans Can Now Access Medical Marijuana to Treat PTSD

Military veterans in New York won a groundbreaking victory on Saturdaywhen Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill that allows them to treat post-traumatic stress disorder with medical marijuana. In Manhattan for the Veterans Day parade, Governor Cuomo said, “Our veterans risked their lives in order to defend the ideals and principles that this nation was founded upon.”

That was not all, however. Cuomo also stated, “It is our duty to do everything we can to support them when they return home. Many of our veterans are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and the medical community has determined that marijuana can be a helpful treatment in some areas.” New York recognizes several medical conditions treatable with marijuana, but PSTD was not one of them.

Qualifying conditions in the state include Parkinson’s disease, cancer, HIV/AIDS, chronic pain, and other serious ailments, but until Cuomo made it official with his signature on Saturday, veterans could not access medical marijuana for post-traumatic stress disorder. This signing is a major cause for celebration, particularly for Senator Diane J. Savino, who wrote and introduced the PTSD bill.

According to Savino, who said in a statement, “New York is home to some of the bravest service members in the nation, and in addition to residents suffering from PTSD due to other traumatic experiences, this legislation will ensure that everyone receives the effective treatment that they deserve.”

Savino also gave thanks where due, “I commend Governor Cuomo for taking action to support our residents and veterans, and for signing legislation that will help remedy a number of serious conditions affecting New Yorkers in communities across the state.” Experts estimate that approximately 20,000 people have PTSD in New York, all of which would benefit from this bill, not all of whom are veterans.

Savino’s PTSD bill gives anyone with a traumatic job or past access to medical marijuana, including firefighters, police officers, and victims of serious accidents, violent crime, rape, and domestic violence. Recently, the American Legion conducted a national survey polling military veterans and their non-professional caregivers.

The results are interesting. Well over 20 percent of veterans are already using medical cannabis. Almost 40 percent already know other vets using it to treat PTSD specifically, and other ailments, as well. Additionally, a whopping 83 percent of all military respondents support the legalization of medical marijuana at the federal, and therefore national, level.

The bill legalizing medical marijuana for PTSD was not the only one that Governor Cuomo signed into law on Saturday for the veteran community in New York. The legislative package he signed also honors those serving the nation in other ways, namely:

  • The state will provide combat veterans in its employ with more paid leave days for health, counselling, and other beneficial services.
  • Honorably discharged veterans will no longer have to pay civil service examination fees.
  • The Department of State and Division of Military and Naval Affairs must now make publically available a list of all non-profit organizations soliciting funds for the United States armed forces.
  • The Office of General Services will now set aside a location, accessible to the public, within the building of the State Capitol for a “Prisoner of War, Missing in Action” plaque and chair to honor veterans that do not return home.

As Cuomo said in his statement on Saturday, “From improving access to health care treatments and services, to removing barriers to employment, all five of these bills take important steps to ensure that military veterans have every opportunity to continue succeeding when they return home.” They certainly do go a long way to making life more comfortable for them.

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