Phoenix VA Hospital Blocks Presentation on Marijuana Research for PTSD

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Arizona prevents lecture aimed at recruiting veterans for landmark PTSD study.

Dr. Sue Sisley, the long maligned researcher hoping to prove that cannabis will work as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in veterans, was back in the news just days before Memorial Day when a presentation aimed at recruiting subjects for her clinical trial was blocked by the Phoenix VA hospital, despite approval by the Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

“The notion that the Phoenix VA hospital refuses to allow that information to be shared with their medical staff is really shameful,” Sisley told KTAR-FM. Dr. Sisley says that the highest concentration of veterans that fit the study’s needs are at the Phoenix VA Medical Center, and that doctors there could recommend veterans if they had information about the clinical trial.

Medical marijuana is legal in Arizona. However, federal law still bans the use of cannabis on a national level. Because of this, the Phoenix VA hospital’s associate chief of staff, Dr. Samuel Aguayo, claims the VA hospital isn’t allowed to promote or recruit veterans for cannabis research.

“VA medical staff are not authorized to make a decision on whether marijuana and marijuana research is appropriate for veterans,” he explained.

Dr. Sisley, on the other hand, feels that the VA should support research into any treatment that can help veterans.

“If they refuse to do that, I think that is negligent and it’s an abomination,” she said.

Congress recently passed legislation that would allow VA doctors to discuss medical marijuana with veterans in medical marijuana states. Dr. Aguayo said the center might reconsider Sisley’s lecture if that bill is signed into law.

“We will examine what the law allows and doesn’t allow,” he said. “It may have an impact on our decision to permit this activity here at the Phoenix VA or not.”

After being approved for her PTSD study by the FDA and DEA, Dr. Sisley was hoping to recruit the necessary veterans to begin this summer in two locations, Phoenix, Arizona, and Baltimore, Maryland.

For more information on medical marijuana or PTSD, visit our education page.

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