The use of cannabis by those experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is well known, but cannabis doesn’t cure PTSD. In fact, there are many who feel that PTSD can never be cured since the underlying problem is memory of psychological trauma that can never be fully erased. PTSD, like grief, must be assimilated into a life and art is a therapy that can help this process.
In Arizona the use of cannabis by PTSD patients was authorized in 2014 after a battle with the Department of Health Services that initially claimed there was no evidence to support the inclusion. An administrative law judge disagreed and the ailment was added to the list. But the department was hardly gracious in defeat. Director Will Humble, having first claimed there was no evidence, then cited a study in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs that showed cannabis may be helpful in palliative care of PTSD and declared “Physician certifications would be valid only for the palliative care of PTSD symptoms (not treatment).” This hair-splitting allows the health department to demand that PTSD patients receive other “conventional” treatments such as medication and/or therapies such as physical therapy or counseling. Thus a PTSD patient is forced to demonstrate ongoing “treatment” to continue receiving cannabis.
This level of Catch 22 is nothing new but some Arizona vets may have come up with an innovative way to demonstrate continuing therapy WHILE engaging in palliative cannabis care. The Arizona Legion is hosting an event at the 420 Social Club, located in Tucson, called “Buds & Brushes” on July 30, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. (MST). The goal is simple, use art therapy to help individuals with PTSD while encouraging a feeling of acceptance and solidarity.
The organizers of Buds & Brushes are two members of The Arizona Legion, Ricardo Pereyda and Jen Christiansen who owns Arte Bella Painting, the company that is contributing the paint, brushes, canvas and other materials. Cheba Hut of Tucson, a local eatery, is providing lunch.
Ric Pereyda has been very active in the medical cannabis issue and is always on the lookout for innovative ways to help and educate. “Painting is a great conversation ice breaker,” he says, “and the idea is to get people sitting next to someone they’ve never met and hopefully spark a new friendship.”
But the idea goes beyond friendships. “Many PTSD patients can’t afford conventional therapies,” Pereyda explains, “So they can’t ever qualify for palliative care. We hope to have certifying officials present at the event who can evaluate and certify qualifying individuals who have been putting off getting legal.” Whether this type of documentation would be enough for the AZDHS is questionable, as Pereyda acknowledges. “A big part of this event is educating patients and the public about the obstacles that are placed between a PTSD patient and cannabis therapy. The Arizona Legion is aware of patients that could benefit from cannabis but they aren’t capable of jumping through all these hoops set up by AZDHS.”
The event is open to the public but only medical cannabis patients may partake on the premises. Sign up or contribute visit the Buds & Brushes at Arte Bella Painting here.