New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo celebrated Veterans Day Saturday by signing a bill into law that adds post-traumatic stress (PTS) to the state’s list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis, with approval from a doctor.
The bill, which went into effect immediately, adds PTS to a growing list of qualifying conditions patients must have to access medical cannabis in New York.
The initiative is aimed at veterans, police officers, firefighters, and survivors of domestic violence. Cuomo’s signature comes at the urging of several veterans’ organizations.
With the signature, New York becomes the 28th state to allow those diagnosed with post-traumatic stress to access medical marijuana. Of the 29 states that have legalized medical marijuana, Alaska is the only one that does not recognize post-traumatic stress as a qualifying condition.
However, Alaska has legalized cannabis for adults over 21, enabling access for veterans with post-traumatic stress even if they aren’t officially medical marijuana patients.
“Many of our veterans are suffering from PTSD, and the medical community has determined that marijuana can be a helpful treatment,” said Cuomo. “This is something we’ve talked about for a long time, and I’m glad we’re taking action today.”
But, the state law won’t help veterans who depend on the VA for their medical care. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs follows federal law, which still classified marijuana as an illegal controlled substance.
Cuomo’s decision comes a few weeks after the American Legion, the nation’s largest veterans’ group, released a survey indicating that 82 percent veterans are in favor of medical marijuana a treatment option to post-traumatic stress.
“If there are veterans that are suffering and we can make a treatment available, we want to,” Cuomo said.