Colorado is a marijuana pioneer, but unlike in 18 other states, post-traumatic stress disorder is not on the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana use.
That means those with PTSD, including a large number of veterans, have to pay higher fees to use recreational marijuana. Advocates also say they have to deal with stigma.
Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson speaks with Curt Bean, an Iraq War veteran with PTSD who is trying to promote alternative treatments including medical marijuana.
Interview Highlights: Curt Bean
On why he's fighting to get veterans access to marijuana for PTSD
"Well, it's a variety of reasons, of course, the biggest one being there needs to be as many resources as possible to allow veterans to be successful. And one, to be successful is to be clear of anxiety, clear of depression, clear of insomnia, clear of any kind of pain they're having. And medical marijuana is a great way to fix all of those problems with a healthy and positive solution."
On the Colorado Department of Public Health's claims that there is not enough research
"It's a really silly statement because they don't allow enough research to be had to like allow them to do enough studies to prove that it is a valuable commodity for veterans and for the society."
On the issues surrounding the use of recreational marijuana for PTSD
"There's a couple of big problems with that ... medical marijuana is about half the price of recreational marijuana. So if you use marijuana regularly, to treat certain symptoms, it's gonna add up really fast to be something that may not be sustainable for you long term, that's twice the cost it usually is. And lastly, the biggest problem is the perception of medical marijuana not being a valuable use for PTSD. If there was a standard that medical marijuana was applicable for PTSD, then more veterans would use it. Right now everyone's looking at it — in Colorado, all these veterans that are trying to abide by the legal system, they're like, 'Hey, medical marijuana isn't an option for me because the state hasn't deemed it an option for me right now,' which is really silly to me."
On the stigma surrounding medical marijuana
"There's a lot of veterans, myself included when I first got out of the military, I never tried marijuana before. And there's a stigma attached to marijuana in general. And until you try it, until you experience it, until you know how it can affect you in a positive way, you don't know the aftereffects ... how you can be a functional adult in society. You know, all these veterans are on so many opiates and so many different drugs, they could barely function. Then they get off of those opiates and get on the medical marijuana and they're producers in their society and their family life and their community, which is a huge part because it makes our whole country successful."
On serving in Iraq and dealing with PTSD afterward
"It wasn't in your head when you were over there, like, when you're in war and you were a solider, you really focused on what's in front of you, not thinking about what's coming after. You just want to survive. So no, I didn't really think about [PTSD]. I knew near the end of my service that it was going to be an issue because I had guys that got out before I did and said, 'Hey, start filing your status and start applying for different programs so that way when you get out you're gonna be successful.' And then I did a little bit of that, but not nearly enough, for sure."
This segment aired on October 25, 2016.