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  • Olivia Castro

How Medical Marijuana Can Help PTSD Due to Racial Trauma

Most people do not know this but BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) have higher rates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than their white American counterparts.

A lot of people associate PTSD to veteran or military trauma as the event that incited the condition. This is because most of the early research done on PTSD looked at this specific community of people to study.

BIPOC folk and their communities experience day to day race-based trauma that is often overlooked in our society and is especially overlooked in a clinical setting as well.

At Louisiana Marijuana Card, we want to shed light on racial trauma in relation to PTSD. Keep reading for more on race-based trauma, PTSD and how medical marijuana can help!

What is Racial Trauma?

Racial trauma is when a person of a racial or ethnic minority group experiences a traumatic event due to their race or ethnicity. Racial trauma, also known as race-based traumatic stress (RBTS), often causes mental and emotional consequences.

Racial trauma can be incited by discrimination, racism, hate crimes, violence, abuse, assault and more. This can be experienced on an individual level, a person to person event, and it can be experienced within the system as a whole.

BIPOC who have experienced racial trauma can have very real PTSD symptoms. These symptoms can reveal themselves in depression, anger, recurring thoughts of the experience, low-self esteem, hypervigilance, mental distancing and even physical reactions such as headaches, chest pains, insomnia, etc. We will be going over these symptoms in detail later in the article!

Can I Get a PTSD Diagnosis With Racial Trauma?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5) is a guide that is used to define and classify mental health conditions. The DSM-5 is used to improve treatment, diagnosis and research in the mental health community and is updated regularly.

The DSM-5 criteria for a PTSD diagnosis does not specifically identify race-based trauma as a criteria. This can be due to a lack of recognition and awareness among clinicians of BIPOC folk’s trauma, the discomfort that surrounds racial topics in a clinical setting and the simple lack of validating measures in the assessment.

It is still possible to get a PTSD diagnosis from racial trauma. But another issue that arises is that one of the criteria for the diagnosis is an “identifiable” trauma.

In the BIPOC community there is still a lot of race-based trauma that exists without having a specific traumatic event to point to. An entire life of experiencing racism builds over time and can cause race-based trauma.

There is also second-hand racial trauma based on what a friend or family member went through or based on traumatic events seen in the media. As well as, generational racial trauma which can be seen in the Jewish community with Holocaust victim lineage.

What is PTSD?

Good question! PTSD is a “psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, or rape or who have been threatened with death, sexual violence or serious injury.”

How Can I Get a PTSD Diagnosis?

According to the DSM-5, there are specific criteria that must be met in order for one to be diagnosed with PTSD. Here is a summary of those criteria:

  • Criterion A: Stressor

    • Exposure to a stressor. Either direct exposure, witness to a trauma, close family or friend’s trauma or indirect exposure to detailed trauma (such as a first responder, etc.)

  • Criterion B: Intrusion Symptoms

    • Trauma is re-experienced; can be through nightmares, flashbacks, unwanted memories, emotional distress, or physical reactivity.

  • Criterion C: Avoidance

    • Avoidance of thoughts, feelings or reminders of the traumatic event.

  • Criterion D: Negative Alterations in Cognitions and Mood

    • Negative thought or feeling due to the traumatic event such as depression, blaming of self, negative thoughts and assumptions, loss of memory about details of the event, negative affect, lack of positive affect, or feelings of isolation.

  • Criterion E: Alterations in Arousal and Reactivity

    • Arousal and reactivity due to traumatic events such as hypervigilance, difficulty with sleep and concentration, startled reactions, irritability and aggression, or destructive behaviors.

  • Criterion F: Duration

    • Symptoms last for more than one month.

  • Criterion G: Functional Significance

    • Symptoms make it difficult to function and create distress.

  • Criterion H: Exclusion

    • Symptoms are not due to medication, substance abuse or another condition or illness.

How Medical Marijuana Can Help PTSD!

If you have raced-based trauma, or even trauma from an event, and you have these symptoms, medical marijuana can help you! What makes medical marijuana so special is that it targets specific symptoms of PTSD.

Anxiety often comes hand in hand with PTSD. Marijuana strains that are high in CBD have been shown to reduce anxiety and stress! It also gives off mood enhancing effects which can lead to a better quality of life for those with PTSD.

Nightmares from the traumatic event also are recurrent for those with PTSD and can trigger insomnia. Good sleep is key in healing! Marijuana strains that are high in THC are great for those with PTSD because they can reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, lengthen the duration and improve the overall quality of your sleep.

Strains That Aid PTSD

Here are some strains that you can look for at your local dispensary that are beneficial for treating PTSD!

  • OG Kush

  • ACDC

  • Pennywise

  • Pineapple Express

  • Master Kush

  • Sour Kush

  • GrandDaddy Kush

  • Cannatonic

  • Blue Dream

  • Harlequin

Remember that not all of these strains will be available at the dispensary you go to. Some of these might not be available until flower is legal in the state, which will be any moment now. The best thing to do is to look at their menu or call ahead in order to see if your dispensary has the specific strain that you are looking for!


Doctors Who Care. Relief You Can Trust.

At Louisiana Marijuana Card, our mission is helping everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.

Call us at (833) 253-2943, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!

Check out Louisiana Marijuana Card’s Blog to keep up to date on the latest medical marijuana news, tips, and information. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to join the medical marijuana conversation in Louisiana!


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