Move to Expand Uses of Medical Marijuana

May 9, 2012

Arizonans who say they suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder are hoping to get the right to use marijuana for medical purposes.

The 2010 initiative spells out medical conditions for which a doctor can recommend marijuana, things like glaucoma and dealing with the side effects of chemotherapy. But the law also allows anyone to seek to add to that list. Aside from PTSD, petitions have been filed for migraines, depression and general anxiety disorder. Some include personal testimony from people who say they are already using marijuana to treat their conditions and want the state to let them obtain the drug legally. State Health Director Will Humble will listen to their stories at a hearing later this month.

"It's still meaningful information," said Humble. "But in the spectrum of science, it's not up there with a peer-reviewed, double-blind, placebo that goes through the peer review process and ends up being published in JAMA or the New England Journal of Medicine."

Humble acknowledged there is not a lot of published research, in part because the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says there's no medical use for marijuana and has balked at providing the necessary permits. But Humble said he's open to other sources.

"It could be anywhere throughout the world," he said. "There's some research that's going on, for example, in Israel. So it doesn't need to be U.S.-bases research. It can be anywhere. But it needs to be good science."

Humble said he expects to make a decision by August.