Inside Medical Marijuana Lawsuit Filed Against Colorado by Vets With PTSD

Matthew Kahl, one of the lawsuit's plaintiffs. A video and more below.
Matthew Kahl, one of the lawsuit's plaintiffs. A video and more below.

Last July, as we reported, the Colorado Board of Health declined to add post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of conditions legally treatable by medical marijuana following a meeting that left many advocates frustrated.

For example, Sue Sisley, a physician awarded a $2 million Colorado grant for a study on pot and PTSD, was given a grand total of two minutes to speak even though she'd traveled all the way from Arizona to share her thoughts.

Afterward, five PTSD patients, including Matthew Kahl, who says the disorder made him feel as if he'd been lowered into "a pit of hell," sued the board and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment over its decision.

The case is moving forward, with attorney Bob Hoban filing an opening brief earlier this month that spells out the reasons why the plaintiffs feel the board's decision was both inhumane and wrong.

The Colorado Board of Health at last year's PTSD hearing.
The Colorado Board of Health at last year's PTSD hearing.
Photo by Thomas Mitchell

We've been reporting for years about efforts to add PTSD to the list of treatable conditions for medical marijuana. In July 2010, for example, marijuana attorney Brian Vicente and a group of veterans presented a petition on the topic to Ned Colange, then Colorado's chief medical officer.

A few months later, the health board rejected the petitions — a move that prompted Vicente to float the idea of a lawsuit in a Westword interview.

Three years later, in 2014, a bill to address the PTSD situation was introduced in the Colorado legislature — but it fell short near the end of the session.

Afterward, advocates decided to revisit the petition process. But when the board again turned thumbs-down following a hearing whose transcript, on view below, includes accusations such as "liar" and "treason," Hoban and company decided to take the matter to court.

Attorney Bob Hoban.
Attorney Bob Hoban.
File photo

The aforementioned opening brief is also shared below — but here's an excerpt that encapsulates one of the arguments aimed at the board and the health department.

The Defendant's arbitrary and capricious decision to deny the Petition based upon the purported lack of medical evidence creates a "Catch 22" by impeding research to further quantify the benefits of using medical marijuana to treat PTSD and hampering efforts to identify and refine the most effective strains of medical marijuana for treating PTSD. Moreover, the Defendant has arbitrarily denied physicals the opportunity to use their clinical judgment to prescribe the medicine that will most effectively treat their patients' PTSD symptoms.

Continue to see a video in which Kahl talks about marijuana and PTSD.

The clip is followed by the brief, the hearing transcript, a CDPHE slide presentation about the condition and a Sisley affidavit.

In the latter, Sisley suggests that she might have been able to change the minds of boardmembers who shrugged off the petition if she'd been allowed to speak for more than two minutes.



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