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5 Mar, 2013 02:58

Colorado veteran faces jail after using marijuana to treat PTSD

Colorado veteran faces jail after using marijuana to treat PTSD

After returning from combat duty with post-traumatic stress disorder, a former US Navy Corpsman in Colorado now faces prison for using marijuana to cope. A court said it would violate his probation after a string of run-ins with the law.

Jeremy Usher uses marijuana medicinally to deal with insomnia, anxiety, depression, flashbacks and a speech impediment developed as a result of the disorder, the Greeley Tribune of Greeley, Colorado reports.

Colorado is one of two US states where residents can legally possess marijuana, the other being Washington.

But as Usher, 31, has been convicted three times of driving drunk, his use of marijuana is a probation violation, which means he could end up in jail as a result.

Usher served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, returning home in 2003, after being shot in the head while working as a medic. That injury caused brain damage that led to many of the symptoms he exhibits.

He developed an alcohol problem as a result of the stress of dealing with his symptoms, which landed him in trouble once in California and twice in Colorado after getting behind the wheel while intoxicated, the Greeley Tribune reports.

As a result, Usher was confined to a two-county radius in Colorado, with a judge denying his request to continue using marijuana medicinally while on probation.

The court systems are very black and white, and PTSD is the definition of gray area,” Usher said, as quoted by the Tribune. “They’re not acknowledging the gray area.”

Usher has now been prescribed Marinol, a synthetic version of THC, the active chemical in marijuana. However, the drug is not cheap, at $18 per pill. He is also helped by a service dog that wakes him up from PTSD-induced nightmares and helps him to calm down during flashbacks.

Still, he faces up to 29 days in jail - and without treatment - due to multiple failed drug tests as a result of the marijuana use, while on probation.

Doctors and others who know Usher personally have undertaken a letter-writing campaign on his behalf, the paper reports, urging the court to recognize how much marijuana and Marinol have helped him.