Regional Public Journalism
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
In August 2012, Northwest News Network correspondent Austin Jenkins collaborated with Seattle Times reporter Hal Bernton on a story about a group of soldiers suffering from PTSD. They received less than honorable discharges from U.S. Army for what they admit was bad behavior. But they left the military without the veterans' medical benefits they say they need to treat their PTSD.See Hal Bernton's stories in The Seattle Times.

Washington Activists Celebrate PTSD, TBI As Qualifying Conditions For Medical Pot

Austin Jenkins
Northwest News Network
Patrick Seifert, owner of RainierExpress dispensary in Olympia, holds a jar of Nigerian Sunshine which he says has helped veterans with PTSD.

Medical marijuana and veterans activists plan to march in Olympia Wednesday to celebrate the addition of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury to the list of conditions that qualify for medical cannabis in Washington.

The new law takes effect on Friday.

RainierExpress is a medical marijuana dispensary in downtown Olympia that caters to veterans. Owner Patrick Siefert -- a vet himself -- unscrews the lid to a jar containing marijuana buds.

This strain is called Nigerian Sunshine. There’s a sticker on the jar that says PTSD.

“Because this has helped other veterans with PTSD,” Siefert explained.

Siefert views marijuana as an alternative to pharmaceuticals. He believes allowing veterans with PTSD and TBI access to medical cannabis could reduce veteran suicides.

In Oregon, PTSD has been a qualifying condition for medical marijuana since last year. However, just last week the Colorado Board of Health rejected a proposal to add cannabis to the list of approved treatments for PTSD in that state.

The PTSD and TBI provision is part of a sweeping overhaul of Washington’s medical marijuana industry. The aim of the new law is to regulate medical cannabis under the state’s recreational pot system.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."