Feb. 7, 2013 11:20

Good For What Ails You

If approved, there’s a new legal treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Parkinson’s disease


Patients grappling with the effects of Parkinson’s disease and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder may have new hope for relief.

These ailments could be added to the list of qualifying conditions for Michigan’s Medical Marihuana Program. If accepted, the conditions will be the first added since the passage of the Medical Marihuana Act in 2008.

The program’s Review Panel voted to recommend Parkinson’s disease to the list after its initial meeting in December, but did not recommend PTSD as a qualifying medical condition. The panel is requesting additional input on PTSD from the public, and citizen public testimony will be taken at a second meeting of the panel this month.

The panel, however, does not make the final decision, but rather makes a recommendation to the director of the state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), Steven H. Hilfinger

The panel, composed almost entirely of physicians and health care professionals, will reconvene sometime prior to April 15 to make final recommendations to Hilfinger, who will issue the final decisions before May 20.

Of the 13 members that make up the review panel, nine are doctors, one is a pharmacist, one is a psychologist and the last member is an MMJ advocate, according to Jeannie Vogel, who works for LARA’s communications department. Nine of the 13 panel members also served on The Advisory Committee on Pain and Symptom Management.

Michigan activist John Evans lobbied heavily for the review panel to convene. He assembled a presentation based on the most relevant and up to date scientific data regarding PTSD and medical marijuana. Evans also organized veterans, who make up a large percentage of PTSD sufferers, to ensure their commentary on treating PTSD with medical cannabis be heard in Lansing at this month’s public hearing.

Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a progressive, degenerative, neurological condition that causes muscular tremors, making walking, controlling movement and coordination highly difficult. Sufferers find increasing difficulty in moving their arms and legs. They develop tremors and facial tics, and gradually become more and more immobile.

There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease. A few pharmaceutical drugs have been developed to control the symptoms, but as with many pharmaceutical drugs, the side effects can be severe.

Cannabis is a safe alternative to pharmaceuticals, and though it is difficult for scientists to conduct studies on cannabis, preliminary evidence indicates that it can serve as a powerful treatment for Parkinson’s and other neurological disorders.

PTSD is a severe anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to any event (like war) that results in psychological trauma. Symptoms for PTSD include re-experiencing the original trauma(s) through flashbacks or nightmares, avoidance of situations associated with the trauma and increased arousal, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, anger and hyper vigilance.

Autism and asthma are two conditions that have already been successfully submitted for a preliminary vote, scheduled to take place between March 15 and April 15.

Getting a Point Across

At press time, even though Michigan’s Medical Marihuana Program Review Panel’s public hearing was scheduled for Jan. 25, written comments can still be submitted until March 11. Comments can also be made in person during the public hearing. Written comments can be submitted to: Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, Bureau of Health Care Services – Health Professions Division, Health Care Information Unit, P.O. Box 30670, Lansing, MI 48909. Any phone or email correspondence can be directed to  Deborah Ingraham, secretary, at ingrahamd@michigan.gov or (517) 335-6557.

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