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'Overnight, Life Changed Completely': How Medical Marijuana Is Making A Difference For A Minn. Family

ROSEMOUNT, Minn. (WCCO) -- A Twin Cities couple is counting down the days until their daughter can get life-changing medicine.

On August 1, medical marijuana will be available to Minnesotans diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD was added to the list of qualifying conditions last December. Registration started July 1. Since then, the Minnesota Dept. of Public Health states 16 people have registered with PTSD as a qualifying condition and one person has already been approved.

Hanging out with the family dogs, 13-year-old TJ and 15-year-old Amber Tidd are typical siblings.

Tj and Amber Tidd
(credit: CBS)

But it's what you can't see that sets them apart from most in a sometimes violent or emotional way.

Both have PTSD from their years as foster children before they were adopted.

"It affects every part of your life, it affects every part of our family and our community," said Heather Tidd, their adoptive mother.

TJ's symptoms were usually physical.

"I would rage, break my walls, yell, scream," he said.

"We couldn't go out to a park because if he heard a child laughing he would think they were laughing at him, get mad and he would rage and he would try to hurt them," Heather said. "Both of our children have been in residential treatment centers, they've each been gone for six months at a time."

She said prescription medicines often didn't help and led to their own difficult side effects.

TJ also has Tourette's syndrome which was on the initial list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana in Minnesota. His parents signed him up when it was legalized two years ago.

It didn't just help his Tourette's, Heather said it has dramatically reduced his PTSD symptoms. Now instead of taking handfuls of pills, he takes a few droplets or sprays of liquid cannabis.

"Overnight life changed completely. I mean we went from he was raging every day to he's raged about 15 times in the last two years," she said.

TJ said it's made him more confident at school and sports, as well as calmer around his family.

"Thinking that I can like do stuff on my own, like I don't need someone always watching me," he said.

Heather hopes medical marijuana will help Amber have more progress during therapy sessions and a better bond with mom and dad.

"She just has a wall up. So you can't really develop any relationship there," Heather said.  "We're hopeful that she'll be able to come off ADHD meds and anxiety meds (as well)."

Heather encourages other parents who have children with PTSD to give medical marijuana a try. She works with Sensible Minnesota, a nonprofit that works to expand the medical marijuana policies in the state. She wants to encourage veterans, victims of domestic violence or sexual assault, or anyone else that has dealt with traumatic events to see if they have PTSD and seek treatment through medical marijuana. She estimates there could be thousands of eligible patients across the state.

"Then all these kids coming out of the (foster care) system that have had abuse either in their birth home or in foster care or just the trauma of changing home so often, all of that adds up," she said.

There are about 7,800 registered patients in Minnesota's medical marijuana program.

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