Coney Island

Savino lauds passage of her PTSD marijuana bill

June 21, 2017 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The bill has the potential to save the lives of thousands of patients, according to state Sen. Diane Savino. Photo courtesy of Savino’s office

Military veterans and others suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) will have the option of treating the condition with medical marijuana if a bill passed by the state Senate on Tuesday is signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

State Sen. Diane Savino (D-Coney Island-Bensonhurst-Staten Island) sponsored the groundbreaking legislation.

Technically, the bill adds PTSD to the list of conditions that qualify individuals to be treated with medical marijuana in New York state.

The bill had previously won the approval of the state Assembly. Assemblymember Richard N. Gottfried (D-Murray Hill-Chelsea) sponsored the bill in that chamber.

Large numbers of people will benefit from the bill, according to Savino. “This bill will bring real relief to the many New Yorkers suffering from PTSD. Veterans, victims of violent crime, police and firefighters and others can all potentially benefit from PTSD being added to the list of medical conditions eligible for the state’s medical cannabis program.  This will help ensure that more of those suffering are eligible to become certified medical cannabis patients, and will allow each doctor to treat their patients as they see fit,” Savino said in a statement following the passage of her bill.

New York state has had a medical marijuana law on the books since 2014. Savino was the lawmaker who originally pushed for the Compassionate Care Act, the law that allows patients with certain medical conditions to be treated with medical marijuana.

Gottfried said allowing patients to relieve PTSD with medical marijuana is not only a compassionate policy, but a sensible one as well. “Prescription medications currently approved for PTSD are not effective for many patients, and have dangerous side effects. This bill has strong, bipartisan support, and I look forward to the governor signing the bill,” he stated.

It is estimated that 19,000 New York state residents suffer from PTSD, Savino said.

PTSD symptoms include anger, flashbacks, nightmares, night sweats, insomnia and avoidance, after a person experiences a traumatic event. Women are twice as likely as men to experience PTSD.

Veterans groups praised the passage of the bill.

“PTSD is a serious problem facing New York’s veterans. We applaud the legislature for passing this legislation, and urge Gov. Cuomo to sign it,” said Bob Becker, legislative director for the New York State Council of Veterans Organizations.

“This is a sensible step forward for New Yorkers who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress.  Veterans in this population can now discuss this option with caregivers attuned to their needs.  Medical marijuana and other emerging treatments continue to provide options for ensuring that those who have sacrificed for our country are offered the best options,” said Dan McSweeney, founder of the We Are Listening Campaign.