Medical marijuana bills adding PTSD, chronic pain as allowed conditions pass House committee

  • FILE - In this Sept. 15, 2015 file photo, marijuana grows at the Ataraxia medical marijuana cultivation center in Albion, Ill. The Obama administration will keep marijuana on the list of the most dangerous drugs, despite growing popular support for legalization, but will allow more research into its possible medical benefits, the Drug Enforcement Administration announced Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File)

Monitor staff
Thursday, February 23, 2017

Medical marijuana advocates scored a win Wednesday, as a New Hampshire House committee recommended adding chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder to the state’s list of qualifying conditions that can be treated with therapeutic cannabis.

On Wednesday, the House’s Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee recommended passing a bill that would add chronic pain to the list of qualifying conditions on a 12-6 vote. The measure on PTSD passed on a much slimmer margin, 9-8.

While some state representatives expressed reservations about the lack of scientific evidence on the efficacy of marijuana to treat PTSD, others said they had been flooded with enough phone calls and emails from veterans and other constituents to convince them it would be a good idea.

“As a non-clinician, this feels like a good bill to me,” said Rep. Jess Edwards, a Republican from Auburn.

An Army veteran, Edwards said he could relate to many of the people who gave testimony that medical marijuana can be beneficial to veterans and others who suffer from PTSD.

But Rep. Donald Lebrun, the presiding committee chairman on Wednesday, expressed some doubt, saying he’s talked to just as many veterans who don’t think therapeutic cannabis helps as those who think it does.

“It seems to come down about 50-50,” he said.

After the vote on PTSD was taken, some members of the audience started clapping and hugging each other. Some cried tears of joy.

The committee recommended other medical marijuana bills inexpedient to legislate, including ones that would add opioid addiction, fibromyalgia and myelitis disorder to the list of qualifying conditions.

The bill to add opioid addiction as a qualifying condition drew contentious testimony a few weeks ago, as some medical professionals expressed concerns that the potential therapy needs to be studied and given more time before it’s approved to treat those addicted to opioids. One doctor said she believes marijuana use reduces a person’s likelihood of getting into treatment, rather than increasing it.

The bills will now head to the full House for a vote.

(Ella Nilsen can be reached at 369-3322, enilsen@cmonitor.com or on Twitter