Iowa board supports adding PTSD to medical marijuana program

ANKENY, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa state board recommended Friday that medical marijuana should be a prescription option for treating post-traumatic stress disorder and intellectual disability with aggression, but it rejected the drug for two other conditions petitioners had requested.

The Iowa Medical Cannabidiol Board decided not to allow patients with opioid dependency and those with Alzheimer’s disease to have legal access to medical marijuana. Board members expressed concern over lack of studies or other evidence that medical marijuana would help those conditions.

The Iowa Board of Medicine must agree with the addition of PTSD and intellectual disability before they can be added to a list of diagnoses for which medical marijuana can be prescribed.

Edgar Ortiz, of Des Moines, said he returned home from 16 years in the U.S. Army including a deployment to Afghanistan as a combat medic with PTSD and a panic disorder that includes anxiety and panic attacks.

“I’m just here for my own experience and to give an opportunity for veterans to have access to this,” he told the board. “It helps me. It calms me down and helps me go to sleep. Before I was sleeping just two to three hours a day.”

Rep. John Forbes, a pharmacist said adding PTSD could also help patients who suffered childhood traumas with needed relief that other medications haven’t addressed.

“It’s not the first line of therapy but it gives them an option when medications fail. I just ask you to consider that,” he said.

Peter Komendowski, president of Partnership for A Healthy Iowa, a group that provides programs to fight substance abuse addiction, encouraged the board to make their decisions based on scientific evidence and resist expanding medical marijuana use pushed by groups that he said want to make a profit.

“We just get tired of all this pop culture medical advice that comes out of nowhere,” he said.

The Iowa Department of Public Health reported that Iowa has more than 3,800 patients certified in the program and more than 850 health care providers enrolled in the program who can prescribe for patients.

DAVID PITT, Associated Press