NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Patients, doctors and veterans like Jonathan Brown went before the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners Monday asking that those suffering from PTSD and chronic pain be eligible for medical marijuana.
"It's clear now that there's a viable treatment option for my brothers and sisters in arms who suffer from PTSD and that's medical cannabis but in the State of Louisiana right now the law as it stands doesn't recognize so that's why we were at the State Board of Medical Examiners today to urge them to make that change," said Brown.
As soon as the summer, medical marijuana will be available in the state for patients with cancer, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, seizure disorders, crohn's disease and some other conditions. But, Sue Sisley, M.D., who advocates for veterans across the country including in Louisiana agrees that PTSD and chronic pain need to be added to that list. She also testified before the board.
"Some of the most debilitated patients in the State of Louisiana have either chronic severe pain or PTSD and if you don't add that to the list then these folks are left to only get their medicine from the black market and that's the whole point of creating a legal regulated market place so finally the sick patients of this state will have the gift of safe legal access to lab tested cannabis," said Sisley who is also president of The Scottsdale Research Institute, a group that studies the safety and effectiveness of medical marijuana for PTSD.
She also treats patients in other states with the disorder. She says right there's only two FDA approved medications on the market . She says when they fail there's not many options left.
"When these guys come back from service all they want to do is reintegrate into their communities and their families but then we give them all these meds, pummel them with these prescriptions that have a lot of really, awful side effects, they cause sexual dysfunction and weight gain and can even cause suicidal thoughts," said Sisley.
We reached out to the State Board of Medical Examiners. The Executive Director, Vincent A. Culotta, Jr. M.D., says they will research the data, take the request under advisement and eventually make a decision.
"I think that the board is going to be as responsive and reasonable as it can in getting the response out but it does take time to review the literature on a number of topics like this," said Culotta.
As for Brown, he tells us he served in the Iraq War and does suffer from PTSD.He hopes that his fight to make medical marijuana more accessible to those with the condition is successful.
"If you can't just speak openly and honestly with your doctor about what you are putting in your body you're not going to get a good standard or outcome of care and so we want to kind of fix that situation and make it to where veterans in Louisiana and elsewhere eventually can go talk to their doctor about the potential use of cannabis to alleviate their symptoms and maybe that honest conversation can lead them toward a path of recovery," said Brown.
The Executive Director of the State Board of Medical Examiners says other patients also asked that those with arthritis and chronic headaches be added to the list of conditions eligible for medical marijuana. He says it could take as long as two to three months before the board makes a decision. The issue would then have to to go before the legislature.