When Texas passed the Compassionate-Use Act in 2015, legalizing low-THC medical marijuana for specific uses, and expanded it in 2019 and 2021 to include additional medical conditions, many patients benefitted. Among those currently eligible to apply for a medical card are patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Texas is one of several medical marijuana PTSD states that now recognize the positive impact of cannabis on both physical and psychiatric health concerns.
That said, there are several criteria associated with obtaining cannabis products legally. Not only do you have to be diagnosed with a qualifying condition, but you must undergo a PTSD evaluation for a medical card with a registered physician.
What benefits do you stand to gain in the process? How do you go about completing the requirements to obtain medical cannabis? Here’s what you need to know.
The Benefits of Medical Marijuana for PTSD
PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that typically occurs following a traumatic event. It is not uncommon in combat veterans, although it can be related to all kinds of traumatic events and circumstances. Before formally identifying the condition as PTSD, it was commonly known by terms such as "shell shock" or "combat fatigue."
The condition is characterized by various challenging and potentially debilitating symptoms, ranging from anger and depression, disturbing and intrusive thoughts, nightmares and flashbacks, paranoia, detachment, isolation, and more.
Those with PTSD often have triggers linked to certain types of stimulation (such as depictions of warfare or violence, loud noises, or unexpected physical contact).
Studies have shown that patients suffering from PTSD exhibit signs of abnormal signaling related to CB1 receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), resulting in greater availability of CB1 receptors. Why is this important for a discussion about cannabis and combat?
The cannabis plant features hundreds of naturally-occurring chemical compounds, including roughly 100 cannabinoids, like THC and CBD. These compounds interact with CB1 and CB2 receptors in the ECS to produce a wide range of results.
Although further studies featuring randomized controlled trials are necessary to fully understand the effects of cannabis as a treatment for PTSD, anecdotal accounts have revealed a range of potential benefits linked to THC and CBD for PTSD veterans.
At least one study, a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial published in March 2021, showed decreases in symptom severity with certain levels of CBD and combinations of CBD and THC.
Generally, cannabis has been found to offer a range of potential benefits that could be relevant to PTSD patients. It can help alleviate worry, increase relaxation, improve mood, and even contribute to more restful slumber.
In conjunction with reducing symptoms specific to PTSD, this could be life-changing, and a PTSD evaluation for a medical card can put you on track for an improved outlook.
The VA and Medical Cannabis
One benefit for veterans is access to comprehensive health plans provided by the Office of Veterans Affairs (VA). This is a federal organization and an important distinction when it comes to medical cannabis.
Although many states, including Texas, have passed laws legalizing the use of cannabis to varying degrees, marijuana remains federally illegal. This means that VA doctors cannot offer PTSD evaluation for medical cards, nor will VA health plans pay for outside evaluation.
Can the VA prescribe weed? The answer to this question is also no. VA doctors cannot prescribe controlled substances banned by federal law, even if they operate in states that have legalized them.
Although the VA recognizes that the ECS “plays a significant role in PTSD” and is aware of cannabis as a potential treatment option, federal law prohibits the organization from prescribing it to veterans.
That doesn’t necessarily mean individual healthcare providers don’t support exploring this option.
However, when it comes to the Veterans Administration and CBD oil or other medical cannabis products, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
How to Get a PTSD Evaluation for a Medical Card
In addition to having a qualifying medical condition, patients must be permanent residents of Texas to be eligible for access to medical marijuana. Although there are no age limits, patients under the age of 18 may require the assistance of a legal guardian to apply.
You must also receive a prescription from a qualifying physician registered with the Compassionate Use Program (CUP), who will enter it into the Compassionate Use Registry of Texas (CURT), operated by The Texas Department of Public Safety. Once this is complete, you can purchase cannabis products from licensed dispensaries.
Unfortunately, you may face challenges when obtaining the physician approval you seek. As a veteran, you would typically see a VA doctor for any areas of concern, but when it comes to the VA and medical cannabis, you’ll find the VA doesn’t prescribe or pay for this treatment.
What can you do? How can you get a PTSD evaluation for a medical card and the prescription you need? You will have to find a physician registered with CUP. When you schedule an appointment, the physician will evaluate the potential benefits and risks of prescribing medical cannabis.
If you are deemed eligible, your physician will create a prescription with recommendations for the amount and the volume of product best suited to your particular needs. You will then be registered with the online CURT system so that dispensaries can confirm your eligibility, and you will receive a written approval letter as proof of your eligibility.
Does Weed Help with Anger Issues?
Anger is often a byproduct of fear, and fear is a natural reaction to trauma. If you suffer from anger issues related to PTSD, cannabis may help to reduce stress and induce relaxation, potentially minimizing the effects of triggers and decreasing the anger response.
Is It Better to Use CBD Oil for PTSD Symptoms?
Hemp CBD and its derivatives were federally legalized by the 2018 Farm Bill. This means you need no prescription to access these products. Unfortunately, they are largely unregulated, which makes it hard to know what you’re getting. With medical cannabis, you’ll gain access to safe, effective, and consistent products.
Will I Lose My VA Disability Benefits if I Use Medical Marijuana?
It’s important for healthcare providers to fully understand your health regimen, so if you take medical marijuana, Veterans Affairs doctors should be informed. This will not affect your VA health or disability benefits.
Help is Available for Texas Patients with PTSD
Although medical cannabis cannot be obtained through the VA, veterans and other patients coping with the symptoms of PTSD have options when it comes to accessing the products they prefer. It all starts with a PTSD evaluation for a medical card.
Are you interested in learning how to get a medical marijuana in Texas or exploring the use of medical cannabis for your qualifying condition? Book an appointment with Texas 420 Doctors today to determine whether a prescription is right for you.
Contributed and published by: Texas 420 Doctors
Published Date: July 18, 2023