Ariz. senator stalls medical marijuana research bill

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by Dennis Welch

Bio | Email | Follow: @Dennis_Welch

azfamily.com

Posted on March 22, 2014 at 4:27 PM

Updated Saturday, Mar 22 at 4:40 PM

PHOENIX -- An Arizona state senator has refused to hear a bill that would approve funding for research into the effects of marijuana on combat veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

House Bill 2333, which would allocate money from the sale of medical marijuana cards to universities researching the safety of the drug, was approved 52-5 by the Arizona House of Representatives on March 10 and passed to the Senate.

However, Sen. Kim Yee has not allowed it to come before the education committee she chairs.

One possible beneficiary of the bill, should it pass, would be Sue Sisely, a University of Arizona professor who treats combat veterans.

Sisely has been involved in an experimental program proposed by the university that would study how marijuana affects PTSD in about 70 veterans. The program recently received backing from the federal government.

"Nobody’s suggesting this is a cure for PTSD, but it does seem to be extremely useful in managing day-to-day symptoms," she said.

Michael Hall, a Marine who served three combat tours in the Middle East, said many of his friends and fellow Marines have struggled with PTSD.

"For many, it’s an initial struggle, kind of figuring out how to adjust when you come back home and having a problem that’s not widely talked about," Hall said.

He added that marijuana has already improved the life of one of his friends.

"He said it was the only thing that could help him … sleep a whole night,” Hall said. "It was one of the first times he got a full night of sleep."

Hall said he and other combat veterans are disappointed in Yee for stalling the bill.

"Across the board, I’m hearing, 'How is one person holding this up for us?' " he said.

Yee could not be reached for comment.

3TV’s Dennis Welch approached her on the Senate floor and asked why she has held the bill. She replied that he should make an appointment.

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