In a ground-breaking victory for New York vets, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Saturday signed a bill allowing state veterans to use medical marijuana as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Our veterans risked their lives in order to defend the ideals and principles that this nation was founded upon and it is our duty to do everything we can to support them when they return home,” Gov. Cuomo said during the Veterans Day parade in Manhattan. “Many of our veterans are suffering from PTSD and the medical community has determined that marijuana can be a helpful treatment in some areas.”
In New York, the qualifying conditions for medical marijuana include cancer, Parkinson’s disease, HIV, and a small number of serious conditions. But, until Cuomo’s action on Saturday, PTSD was omitted from the list.
Sen. Diane J. Savino, author of S.5629 (the PTSD bill) was thrilled with the signing. “New York is home to some of the bravest service members in the nation and in addition to residents suffering from PTSD due to other traumatic experiences, this legislation will ensure that everyone receives the effective treatment they deserve,” Savino said in a statement. “I commend Gov. Cuomo for taking action to support our residents and veterans, and signing legislation that will help remedy a number of serious conditions affecting New Yorkers in communities across the state.”
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It is estimated that nearly 20,000 New Yorkers with PTSD could benefit from the use of medical marijuana — and all are not veterans. The bill will also allow police officers, firefighters, and survivors of domestic violence, rape, violent crime, and accidents to use medical marijuana.
According to a recent national survey conducted on behalf of The American Legion, more than 20 percent of veterans use medical marijuana. Nearly 40 percent say they know a fellow vet who uses cannabis as a treatment for PTSD or other ailments. And 83 percent of veterans want medical marijuana to be legalized by the federal government.
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The PTSD bill was one of five pieces of legislation signed on Saturday by Cuomo to help those who served our nation. The legislative package also includes:
- Providing combat veterans employed by the State with additional days of paid leave to obtain health services, counseling and access to other benefits.
- Waiving the civil service examination fee for veterans who were honorably discharged.
- Requiring the Department of State and Division of Military and Naval Affairs to maintain a public list of all not-for-profit corporations that solicit funds for the armed forces of the United States.
- Directing the Office of General Services to set aside a publicly accessible location within the State Capitol building for a POW/MIA chair and plaque to honor those veterans who have not yet returned home.
“From improving access to healthcare treatments and services, to removing barriers to employment, all five of these bills take important steps to ensure that veterans have every opportunity to continue succeeding when they return home,” Cuomo said.