For Gary Hess, the passage of Louisiana’s medical marijuana bill has the potential to dramatically change his life. Before leaving to serve the United States in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Hess lived a happy life with his partner, Brianna Hardy. After returning from the war, however, symptoms of his post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD turned their world upside down. Every day, Hess would deal with symptoms of depression, anxiety, and insomnia that caused him to retreat into isolation.
Frustrated with the behaviors Hess was demonstrating daily, Hardy decided to give him one more chance before she threw in the towel on their relationship. Hess saw a therapist at his Veterans Administration office, where he learned about the benefits of medical marijuana and decided to give it a try.
In early August, Hess became the first patient and veteran in the state of Louisiana to receive medical marijuana treatment. Although Hess and Hardy are not sure whether medical marijuana will completely heal his PTSD, the benefits they’ve seen so far from the drug are impressive, and they encourage those who suffer from PTSD to give it a try.
PTSD and Medical Marijuana
Post-traumatic stress disorder is one of the 14 diagnoses eligible for medical marijuana use in the state of Louisiana. The official definition of PTSD is a “mental health condition triggered by either experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event.” According to the Mayo Clinic, PTSD symptoms include intrusive memories, avoidance, negative moods, depression, and physical and emotional reactions. These symptoms can manifest themselves as depression, anxiety, and insomnia.
In the United States, nearly 20% of all veterans suffer from PTSD following deployment. The diagnosis is the result of a myriad of terrifying events, such as witnessing death or being involved in a serious accident. Cannabis-based products, specifically medical marijuana, have been found to treat and minimize the prevalence of PTSD symptoms by altering the endocannabinoid system to improve happiness, pleasure, and memory functions.
Medical Marijuana in Louisiana
Louisiana’s medical marijuana bill will give those like Hess who suffer from PTSD a fighting chance to restore their lives. According to the bill, those who have been diagnosed with PTSD will need a prescription from an approved physician to purchase medical marijuana at one of the nine dispensaries in the state. Medical marijuana will be available to patients in three non-smokable strengths.
It’s imperative to note that if a person does not have a medical marijuana prescription, possession of the drug will still be illegal. There are still severe penalties for recreational marijuana possession and use.
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