Arizona veterans want expanded access to medical marijuana for PTSD

Emanuel Herrera returned from war addicted to painkillers and barely able to tolerate his children’s voices.

In 2006, while he was providing security with the Arizona National Guard for a convoy in Iraq, his truck hit an improvised bomb. The blast nearly destroyed his neck, damaged the discs in his back and left him with brain injuries and post-traumatic stress.

Last year, despite warnings from medical staff at his local veterans hospital, he began to smoke pot legally under the state’s new medical marijuana program

“I’m a walking testimonial — that it works,” said Herrera, a Purple Heart recipient.

No one collects data on the number of veterans participating in medical marijuana programs in Arizona or the other 16 states where it is legal. While the federal government sends mixed messages about its stance, veterans and program advocates say those who have served are increasingly turning to cannabis to cope with health issues. In Arizona, veterans want to expand access for those with PTSD.

Read the full story about debate over veterans and medical marijuana in the Arizona Republic.

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