Medical Marijuana and PTSD: Maine Veterans in a Bind

December 11th, 2013 by admin Leave a reply »

Sgt. Ryan Begin starts most days by lighting up. “I enjoy waking up and smoking marijuana, cause it puts me in the present, it reminds me that I’m here and now.”

His marijuana is prescribed. It’s for his PTSD. Sgt. Begin was diagnosed with this disorder after returning home from Iraq. On Oct. 9, Maine joined six other states across the nation which recognized PTSD as a condition treatable by medicinal marijuana.

Begin joined the Army after dropping out of college in Florida, summer of 2004. It was one of the most violent years in the war. A year later, his combat unit was hit by an IED and his arm was almost severed by shrapnel.

He left Iraq, had reconstructive surgery and was prescribed a cocktail of drugs to treat his physical pain and the anxiety and outbursts of aggression that plagued him when he returned. Ryan’s mother, Anne, saw how the incident continued to affect him psychologically.

“He just withdrew from everybody. I had seen him over the years attempt suicide and I was worried everyday that I’d get the call that he succeeded.”

On July 21, 2009, Begin reached a critical low.  He crashed his truck while drunk and high on narcotic painkillers, and then assaulted the responding officer and was sentenced to 43 days in prison. At the time of the crash, Begin was taking anti-anxiety medications, opiates, sleeping pills and anti-depressants. He saw this long list of drugs as part of the problem. 

“They took

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