Maine Won't Allow Those with Tourette's to get Medical Marijuana

By Rebecca McCurry 01/08/2014

Tourette's syndrome is a neuropsychiatric disorder that often causes at least one vocal tic and multiple physical tics. Many individuals with this condition do not respond well to conventional medicine. Many clinical trials have be done to test the effectiveness of cannabis in relieving the symptoms of the disease with many positive results. Individuals with Tourette's living in Maine must wait to receive a medical marijuana card for their disorder, because in the state, this disease does not qualify for medical marijuana.

The state public health officials made the decision in late December 2013 not to add Tourette's syndrome to the list of conditions that qualify for this type of treatment. Unfortunately, there was no explanation given for the decision made. A spokesperson from the United States Department of Health and Human Services, however, said that the decision was made after it carefully went over all of the information, including testimonials from doctors and patients. Advocates are not pleased with the decision and plan on continuing the fight to get this condition added to the list of qualifying conditions in 2015.

Many individuals with Tourette's syndrome use marijuana regularly to treat the severe muscular tics caused by the disease. Residents in Maine must obtain it illegally for the time being until it is added to the list of qualifying conditions. A lot of patients believe that using marijuana for their symptoms has greatly improved the quality of their lives and has done a lot to reduce their symptoms. An Ellsworth resident, Peter Hasty, believes he would not even be able to leave his house if it wasn't for marijuana.

So far in Maine, many debilitating medical conditions qualify for medical marijuana. These conditions include cancer, Chron's Disease, Hepatitis C, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, HIV, intractable pain, and chronic pain that has not responded good enough to treatments lasting six months or more.

Individuals with Tourette's syndrome experience a variety of symptoms that cause involuntary movements that include shoulder jerking, facial grimacing, eye blinking, and head jerking. Grunting noises, constant throat clearing, and sniffling are also symptoms of the disease. Some individuals experience symptoms more severe than others. These involuntary movements and sounds come without warning, but are often worsened when the individual is experiencing excitement or anxiety.

Very few scientific studies have been concluded about how exactly cannabis can help patients with Tourette's syndrome. Two notable clinical studies were published by Dr. Muller-Vahl, a German researcher in 2002. The first study was performed on 12 patients and they were given a single dose of THC. The other study involved 24 patients who were monitored over period of six weeks. The patients all showed a significant reduction in their symptoms after using THC.

Patients in Maine with the disorder try to stay hopeful that the state will add the disorder to the list, even though it is impossible to know when or if that will ever happen. Many individuals will continue to illegally obtain marijuana to help reduce their symptoms so that they can have a better life.



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