Arizona Cannabis Nurses sue state over PTSD ruling

Arizona Cannabis Nurses sue state over PTSD ruling

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Arizona Cannabis Nurses association has filed a lawsuit against the Arizona Department of Health Services, over a ruling that affects those suffering from PTSD.

Even though the department's director Will Humble issued a decision last month, stating those with PTSD could get access to medical marijuana starting in January, 2015 those in the medical marijuana industry are questioning some of the stipulations attached to that decision.

Heather Manus, the president of the AZ Cannabis Nurses Association said there was a "catch".  Those with PTSD had to get a doctor's recommendation and be able to prove  that they had already tried "conventional" treatments first.  The lawsuit also questioned the delay in giving patient's access to the medicine.  

Ken Sobel an attorney representing the group said the six month wait was uunnecessary  State officials said doctors and dispensaries needed the time to educate themselves about PTSD and medical marijuana use, also to set protocols in place.

Ricardo Pereyda, a war veteran who fought during Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2004-2005 was a medical marijuana cardholder who said the Cannabis really helped him deal with his PTSD.

Pereyda said he was diagnosed with PTSD when he returned.

"For one person it could be severe anxiety, fear of leaving home, insomnia, depression, anger management," said Pereyda.

He added that he tried all the conventional treatments for years.  This included one-on-one counseling, group therapy, and a long list of pharmaceuticals.

"I went from taking Ibuprofen and water in the military to having a medicine cabinet that would rival my grandparents," said Pereyda.

He said the narcotics made him even sicker, and unable to function.  He was able to get a medical marijuana card due to his chronic pain.

"Since 2010 I have been using Cannabis exclusively to treat my post traumatic stress.  I believe this plant has beneficial properties that can keep my brothers and sisters who are currently suffering," said Pereyda.

Manus said dispensary owners heard from those suffering from PTSD all the time, wanting to know if they could get medical cannabis as a form of treatment.

"It's estimated there are 500,000 patients in the state of Arizona.  Not everyone is going to use Cannabis, not everyone wants to try it, and it won't work for everyone but what we're trying to do is get it listed so patients who are finding there is nothing else for them, they need something more.  They know Cannabis is an option." said Manus.

Last December, Humble denied a request to add PTSD to the list of debilitating medical conditions that qualified people for a medical marijuana card.  He said there was no research to support that Medical Marijuana helped those with PTSD.

This is the second lawsuit filed against the state department of health services.  Humble has also been served with another lawsuit by a group of people who argued that the provision in the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act that limited cultivation rights to patients that live more than 25 miles away from a dispensary was unconstitutional under the 14th amendment, Equal protection clause.

Due to the Labor Day holiday, we were unable to get a comment from state officials in regards to this story.