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Governor Cuomo considers expansion of medical marijuana program for PTSD patients Haze

Both houses of the New York State Legislature have approved a bill that would expand eligibility for medical marijuana to include people undergoing treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has not yet signed the measure. He said New York’s medical marijuana program is working “very well” but he wants to consult with experts before making a decision. “We want to make sure medical marijuana is medical marijuana, so we’re careful about what diseases it covers.”

A Rochester Marine veteran said marijuana has helped him with his PTSD symptoms.  Mark DiPasquale first tried cannabis therapy while living in California. Since returning to New York, he has been eligible the state’s medical marijuana program because of his other diagnoses of neuropathy and inflammatory bowel disease, but he claims the drug has dramatically improved his PTSD symptoms which once kept him isolated. 

"I was in the house for years playing video games. I did not want to leave, did not want to talk to anybody or associate with people."

DiPasquale said he is a different person than he was nine or ten years ago. He is the co-founder of the Veterans Cannabis Collective Foundation, a nonprofit that educates veterans about the benefits of medical cannabis. But he said true healing involves more than just a prescription.

"There's no such thing as just taking a substance and not putting work into it. You have to get your mental health together; you have to keep educating yourself, reading and interacting with people. If I don't I could find myself right back into what PTSD can do, bring you right back into those dark days."

DiPasquale said he took 17 different prescription medications that he has since been able to stop. 

He says veterans in New York deserve another option to treat their PTSD. 

Beth Adams joined WXXI as host of Morning Edition in 2012 after a more than two-decade radio career. She was the longtime host of the WHAM Morning News in Rochester. Her career also took her from radio stations in Elmira, New York, to Miami, Florida.