New Jersey vets with PTSD seek medical marijuana

Trenton resident Philippe Dume

Trenton resident Philippe Dume

Legislation advanced by a New Jersey Assembly committee would qualify those with post-traumatic stress disorder for the state’s medical marijuana program.

Trenton resident Leo Bridgewater is an Army veteran who served two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. He told lawmakers medicinal marijuana could help vets with PTSD.

“In the last year, I had three battle buddies who tried to commit suicide. Two were successful,” he said. “It would just bother me, it wouldn’t sit right with me, if this doesn’t get rectified in some way, shape or fashion.”

Trenton resident Philippe Dume, a veteran with PTSD, also spoke in favor of the measure. He’s already using medical marijuana because of muscle spasticity from a knee replacement.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

“It helps me out. I’m medicated right. That’s how I’m able to speak to you guys,” he said during a Thursday hearing. “It calms me down. It helps me focus. It helps me sleep.”

Gov. Chris Christie has been reluctant to make changes to the state’s medical marijuana regulations. But Assemblyman Reed Gusciora believes this one might have a chance.

Traditional medications sometimes don’t help PTSD patients — and medicinal marijuana has shown great promise in treating their symptoms, said Gusciora, D-Mercer.

“When you have 22 suicides a day in this country from soldiers returning from war, if the medical science is there and it’s a recommendation from the doctor, I don’t think that we should interfere with that,” he said.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal