DEA Finally Approves Marijuana to be Studied for Veterans Suffering From PTSD
In a long overdue move, the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has finally granted approval for clinical trials researching the therapeutic value of marijuana on veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The DEA’s decision will potentially benefit hundreds of thousands of men and women who served our country and who are victims of PTSD, as well as millions of other Americans who also suffer from the disorder.
The research will represent a historic first, as noted by MedicalJane.com:
This marks the first time in history that any federal agency, including the DEA and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has approved a clinical trial with the intent of developing smokable, whole-plant marijuana into a prescription drug.
The trials will be conducted by the non-profit Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), and will be funded by a $2.156 million grant from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).
From a MAPS press release announcing the study:
The randomized, blinded, placebo-controlled study will test the safety and efficacy of botanical marijuana in 76 U.S. military veterans with treatment-resistant PTSD. …
The trial will gather safety and efficacy data on four potencies of smoked marijuana with varying ratios of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). By exploring the effectiveness of a variety of marijuana strains, the study seeks to generate naturalistic data comparable to how many veterans in medical marijuana states currently use marijuana. Results will provide vital information on marijuana dosing, composition, side effects, and areas of benefit to clinicians and legislators considering marijuana as a treatment for PTSD.
Overcoming the obstacles against marijuana research
There is currently no specific medication that addresses the symptoms of PTSD, and advocates of therapeutic marijuana have been pushing for such research for years have often encountered obstacles and discrimination against their efforts.
Dr. Sue Sisley, one of the two researchers who will oversee the trials, has been at the forefront of PTSD marijuana research and was granted approval three years ago from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to begin marijuana studies on veterans with PTSD.
The study was expected to begin in 2014 at the University of Arizona, where Sisley worked as an assistant professor and researcher.
The study soon stalled, however, when Sisley was fired from the University, allegedly retribution for her advocacy for medical marijuana research.
Dr. Sisley will be responsible for half of the subjects involved, and her research will be conducted in Phoenix. AZ. The other half will be treated by Dr. Ryan Vandrey at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD.
Veterans find marijuana more effective than other drugs in treating PTSD
Thousands of veterans struggling with PTSD have already turned to cannabis for relief of the symptoms associated with the disorder. Many report that marijuana is a far superior treatment than typically prescribed drugs such as Zoloft and Klonopin, which are often ineffective and leave patients feeling like “zombies.”
In some states, veterans are able to obtain medical marijuana, but many of those with PTSD are forced to break the law or simply go without what many agree is the best treatment available for the symptoms of the disorder.
PTSD symptoms include panic attacks, insomnia, aggressive behavior, feelings of guilt or shame, suicidal thoughts and a number of other manifestations that can make it nearly impossible to live a normal life.
In many cases, marijuana has helped ease the symptoms and allowed PTSD sufferers to stop taking pharmaceuticals that provide only marginal relief and which often cause severe side effects.
It’s encouraging to see the federal government finally softening its long-held stance of regarding marijuana as a dangerous narcotic. Hopefully this new research will not only lead to an effective legal treatment for veterans and others who suffer from PTSD, but a general acceptance at the federal level of the potential benefits of marijuana as a treatment for many illnesses.