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Marijuana: an innovative treatment for New Jersey's disabled?

For New Jersey workers with post-traumatic stress disorder, many find that their symptoms make it near impossible to consistently perform work duties or to hold down a job. For example, although the severity of symptoms can vary, many afflicted with PTSD report general anxiety, hyperarousal, depression, nightmares, and other work-disruptive ailments.

Unfortunately, the available treatments for PTSD are limited. Traditional methods include psychotherapy or medication, such as antidepressants. Yet while such medication may help patients feel less sad or on edge, they often do not treat the underlying causes of PTSD, possibly brought on by war trauma.

One New Jersey citizen with PTSD apparently favors an innovative treatment for his condition, which is now the subject of a lawsuit. The 21-year-old, who suffers from PTSD, is challenging New Jersey's marijuana laws by looking to have charges against him dropped for possession of marijuana under 50 grams and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Notably, the man has dual citizenship in New Jersey and California, as well as status as a legal medical marijuana patient under California law. Unlike California, however, New Jersey still has not legalized the use of medicinal marijuana. In fact, use of marijuana is a federal offense is many cases, although criminal charges are often not pursued on a federal level against those using it for medical reasons.

The case appears to be headed to trial. The man hopes a positive outcome will allow others with PTSD to benefit. It's unclear whether the medicinal marijuana would prevent users from performing work duties, even if PTSD symptoms were diminished.

Until the law changes, New Jersey workers with PTSD are advised to seek traditional treatments. In addition, Social Security disability benefits may be available to help cover some of those costs, although the application process is seldom easy. An attorney can help guide applicants through the process.

Source: The Advertiser News, "PTSD sufferer challenges NJ's marijuana law," Amy Stewart, Nov. 8, 2012

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