Last Thursday the Senate unanimously passed a bill that would add post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of qualifying medical conditions for the state’s medical marijuana program. Sponsored by Senator Stephen Archambault, D-Smithfield, the bill was one of several hoped to be approved last year but was delayed when the General Assembly abruptly adjourned. The House has a duplicate version still in the House Judiciary Committee that will hopefully be going to the floor for a vote soon.
Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin, however, voiced some concerns over the bill. In written testimony to the Senate, he warned that some studies have shown marijuana use by patients suffering from PTSD can increase substance abuse or trigger violent episodes. He urged lawmakers to include language in the bill to ensure the patient’s diagnosis came from a psychiatrist and require documentation that demonstrates other treatment options have been ineffective.
If this bill becomes law it will mark the first mental-health related condition to be on the list of qualifying medical conditions in the state. This is very exciting news for the thousands of Rhode Island residents who battle with mental illness. This bill may open the door for other mental illnesses and disabilities to be added to the list such as anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder.