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  • Olivia Castro

PTSD, Racial Trauma and Medical Marijuana

It may come as a surprise to some, but BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) have higher rates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in comparison to white Americans. This is a stat that a lot of people are not aware of.

Most of the time when people associate PTSD with a trauma that incited the condition, they think about veterans. This is because most of the early research done on PTSD looked at veterans and the military population.

We often overlook every day traumas that BIPOC face in their day to day lives, especially when it comes to PTSD.

At Ohio 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 someone experiences a traumatic incident due to their race. Racial trauma is also called race-based traumatic stress (RBTS) and often causes mental and emotional consequences.

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

Individuals who experience 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 and more.

Can I Get a PTSD Diagnosis With Racial Trauma?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5) is a manual that is used to define and classify mental health disorders. The DSM-5 is meant to improve treatment, diagnosis and research.

The DSM-5 criteria for a PTSD diagnosis does not specifically identify race-based trauma. This is due to a lack of recognition and awareness among clinicians, the discomfort that surrounds racial topics in a therapeutic setting and also a lack of validated measures in the assessment.

Even with this being true, it is possible to get a PTSD diagnosis from racial trauma. But another issue is that one of the criteria for the diagnosis is an identifiable trauma. So for those who experience racial trauma on a personal level, such as an assault or a hate crime, it could count as an identifiable traumatic experience.

In the BIPOC community there is still a lot of race-based trauma that exists without having a specific traumatic event to point to. A lifetime of experiencing racism builds over time and can cause racial trauma. There also can be 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.

What is PTSD?

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 is PTSD Diagnosed?

According to the DSM-5 there are eight criteria that must be met in order for a person 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 these symptoms sound like what you are experiencing, raced-based or not, medical marijuana can help you! Medical marijuana is so effective for those battling PTSD because it can target specific symptoms.

One of the conditions that often go hand in hand with PTSD is anxiety. 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.

A lot of people with PTSD have nightmares of the trauma they experienced which in turn triggers insomnia. If you can’t sleep, they can’t heal. 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 and improve the overall quality of your sleep!

Get Diagnosed with Us!

Did you know that our doctors here at Ohio Marijuana Card can diagnose you with PTSD? You can schedule an appointment with us today! After your PTSD diagnosis, you will receive $50 off of your medical marijuana evaluation when you get your marijuana card with us.

Strains That Aid PTSD

Once you have your diagnosis and medical marijuana card with us, you can purchase some strains 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. 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.

Here at Ohio Marijuana Card, our goal is to help 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.

If you have any questions, call us at (866) 457-5559, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!

Check out Ohio 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 Ohio.


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