House lawmakers are not convinced post-traumatic stress disorder should qualify a person to receive medical marijuana and are advocating for more research before they include that condition in a bill poised for a committee vote.
The House Human Services Committee is reworking a Senate bill that updates laws for pot dispensaries. There are 1,061 registered medical marijuana patients in Vermont, 705 of whom use the state's four dispensaries.
The provision was removed by the Senate.
"We decided that this was really a technical bill and it was making needed improvements to the system that already exists instead of expanding the system," said Sen. Jeanette White, D-Windham, the bill's sponsor.
The House version adds back the PTSD language, but only for the most serious cases.
Members of the House Human Services Committee on Tuesday made it clear they do not unanimously support including PTSD as a qualifying condition.
Rep. Michael Mrowicki, D-Putney, said it is a difficult decision.
"Certainly it's a very real affliction for a lot of people," he said. "The lack of science around this hurts the case, though."
Mrowicki said he would like to see more clinical trials about the effectiveness of marijuana in treating PTSD symptoms. In the meantime, he said he might support using it for PTSD in a limited way.
"The reality is, even for a lot of drugs that have gone through clinical studies, how long they help is sometimes very limited," Mrowicki said.
Rep. Anne Donohue, R-Northfield was not at the committee meeting Tuesday morning but later said she is concerned about allowing PTSD in general because of the lack of research about medical marijuana. But she said she is OK with the language in the bill because it is only for serious cases of PTSD.
"We tend to look at benefits of things and not necessarily negative side effects," Donahue said.