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Veterans React To Denial Of PTSD Classification Of Medical Marijuana: 'I'm Angry, I'm Confused'

DENVER (CBS4)- Many military veterans are upset after the Colorado Board of Health failed to approve Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, as a condition for medical marijuana.

"I'm angry, I'm upset and I'm confused," said U.S. Army veteran Rusty Guenard who expressed his disbelief after Wednesday's vote.

Board members voted 6-2 against adding PTSD to the medical conditions approved for medical marijuana treatment.

After two hours of often times emotional public testimony, the vote was announced and shouts of outrage filled a packed house at the Colorado Board of Health.

Licenses For Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
(credit: Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

"You're a bunch of liars and you all gotta sleep with yourselves!" said one medical marijuana supporter.

"You should all be tried for treason!" said another.

If it would have been approved, Colorado would have been the tenth state to include PTSD in its medical marijuana program.

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"If it wasn't for marijuana I'd most likely be dead or in jail," said Guenard.

Guenard came home from Operation Iraqi Freedom with PTSD. He said after trying pills given to him by the Veterans Administration, he became suicidal. Then he tried marijuana and said it gave him his life back.

"I'm not a scientist or anything like that. I'm telling you as a veteran, it helps me. It's responsible for saving my life," said Guenard.

Colorado's Chief Medical Officer Larry Wolk recommended the state approve the condition.

"I'm sure we will continue to see this and continue to debate how to best treat patients with PTSD," said Wolk.

Board of Health President Tony Cappello said he voted against the measure because of the lack of scientific research regarding PTSD and marijuana.

"I as an epidemiologist have a hard time supporting that without adequate research that has been presented to us," said Cappello.

Guenard said even though recreational pot is legal in Colorado, most veterans can't afford it, so approving medical marijuana for PTSD would be a godsend. He said he and his fellow veterans will continue to fight to make it happen.

"We're not going to stop. We're veterans. We know how to fight. We have a different type of fight now and we're going to go with it," said Guenard.

Wolk argued that adding PTSD would increase transparency of actual usage, saying many veterans are self-medicating. He hopes in the future the research will be there to help those suffering from the illness.

Colorado has about 113,000 people on its medical marijuana registry. All have a doctor's recommendation to use the drug to treat eight conditions ranging from cancer to severe pain.

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