New Yorkers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder got a very special Veterans Day gift from their state government this year.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a series of bills into law on Saturday aimed at improving military veterans’ quality of life, one of which was a measure to add PTSD to the state’s list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana treatment.
“Our veterans risked their lives in order to defend the ideals and principles that this nation was founded upon,” Cuomo said, “and it is our duty to do everything we can to support them when they return home.”
The measure garnered massive support in the state Legislature earlier this year and passed through the Senate in June.
Cuomo said medical marijuana could treat as many 19,000 New Yorkers with PTSD – including veterans, police officers and survivors of domestic violence, crime and accidents.
Veteran advocates - many of whom have been lobbying the federal government to improve veterans' access to cannabis - celebrated the news this weekend.
“Gov. Cuomo should be applauded for helping thousands of New York veterans find relief with medical marijuana,” said Bob Becker, legislative director for the New York State Council of Veterans Organizations.
“PTSD is a serious problem facing our state, and now we have one more tool available to alleviate suffering.”
New York is the 28th state to recognize PTSD as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana treatment. PTSD patients have long used cannabis for treatment of symptoms like anxiety, insomnia, and hypervigilance.
Recently, an overwhelming majority of U.S. military veterans threw their support behind medical marijuana research and legalization in a new survey. The American Legion survey showed that 81 percent of vets and 83 percent of caregivers support the federal legalization of cannabis for medical purposes.
Other veteran-friendly measures Cuomo signed on Saturday included a bill to give combat veterans employed by the state more days off, as well as a bill that waives the civil service examination fee for veterans who were honourably discharged.
Cuomo also unveiled a new program that will permit veterans to order service branch-specific license plates demonstrating their service in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard or Marines.