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Advocates of medical marijuana for PTSD patients want immediate implementation

PHOENIX — Department of Health Services Director Will Humble may have approved on Wednesday treating post-traumatic stress disorder with medical marijuana, but long-time advocates of the move say it may take months to implement.

“(Humble) is actually trying to modify the order. He’s stating that this will not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2015,” said Heather Manus, president of Arizona Cannabis Nurses Association.

“Even the (Department of Veterans Affairs) has put out the statistic that 22 veterans a day commit suicide,” Manus said, referring to a 2013 VA study. “At that epidemic rate, these patients should not wait any longer.”

Manus said she believes Humble’s decision in favor of marijuana for the treatment of PTSD came after a study was published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs earlier this year. The study concluded that more than 75 percent of the PTSD patients treated with medical pot showed symptomatic improvements over their counterparts who were not prescribed the drug.

According to Manus, medical marijuana can help PTSD sufferers better manage anxieties, sleeplessness, social issues, flashbacks and “reduce all of these symptoms to a level where (the patients) can actually function in the world.”

If Humble tries to hold off allowing PTSD patients to use medical marijuana immediately, Manus said her association has its own legal team prepared to challenge any further delays.