Medical Marijuana To Treat Tourette’s?


Pending approval this fall, people with Tourette’s Syndrome may be able under state law to use medical marijuana to help quell symptoms of the disorder. If so, it’ll be thanks to a patient who approached the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in March armed with research that suggests Tourette’s patients may find relief with marijuana.

A formal request, as required by law, by the health department to add the disorder to the list of treatable ailments was submitted Tuesday to the Department of Regulatory Services, which has the authority to approve or deny the request. Tourette’s is a neurological disorder that causes involuntary motor or vocal “tics” that are repetitive and rapid such as blinking, twitching, or grunts. Symptoms range from moderate to severe, and treatments vary.

The health department found the information submitted to department staff last March to be credible.

“Based upon both the information supplied by the petitioner and a review of the medical literature which shows some scientific evidence of efficacy in humans and no evidence of harm, the department is bringing this rulemaking action to add Tourette’s syndrome as a debilitating medical condition for which an individual could apply to the Medical Marijuana Program for a registry identification card,” read the request.

Colorado voters approved a citizens initiative in 2000 allowing the using of medical marijuana to treat a variety of ailments. State regulators wield the authority to fine-tune the list of allowable uses of medical marijuana.

However, policy makers in state and local government have been trying to rein in the proliferation over the last year of medical-marijuana dispensaries that have popped up in larger cities. Marijuana is still illegal under federal law.

Two measures passed by the legislature curbing the herb’s use were signed into law this year by Gov. Bill Ritter after rigorous debate and considerable wrangling over the details. House Bill 1284, sponsored by House members Tom Massey, R-Poncha Springs, and Ken Summers, R-Lakewood, along with Senate members Chris Romer, D- Denver, and Nancy Spence, R-Centennial, put in place guidelines for medical marijuana dispensaries in the name of weeding out illegitimate dispensaries. Senate Bill 109 fine-tuned the doctor-patient relationship when medical marijuana is recommended, and was sponsored by Romer, Spence, Massey and Rep. Beth McCann, D-Denver.

Spence said that she supports the addition of Tourette’s if the evidence points to the effectiveness of medical marijuana in treating the disorder.

“I don’t have a problem with Tourette’s being added to the list,” said Spence. “I would defer to the experts though in making that determination, and I trust that the department will look at the research.”

A hearing is set for 10 a.m. on Sept. 15 at the health department and is open to the public.

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