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DEA Approves Groundbreaking Study Into the Effects of Marijuana on PTSD

After being delayed for over half a decade, critical research into the usefulness of cannabis for veterans with PTSD is finally near beginning. “I’m not pro-marijuana,” Dr. Sue Sisley once said. “I’m pro-science.” Nearly six years ago, Dr. Sisley sought approval from the FDA for a study to examine the effects of cannabis on PTSD. Despite knowing the painfully long and complex application process for marijuana research in this country, she believed fully in the need for her research and moved forward anyway. Then she was fired by the University of Arizona. Sisley asserts she was let go after her research and politicized views on cannabis created unwanted attention for the university from Republican lawmakers who control its funding. “This is a clear political retaliation for the advocacy and education I have been providing the public and lawmakers,” Sisley said at the time. “I pulled all my evaluations and this is not about my job performance.” Sisley wasn’t about to let a setback like losing her job, funding, and research location in one swoop stop what she sees as critical work.  She persisted, talking to a number of universities and private donors who were interested in supporting her research. Then in 2014, Sisley and her private sponsors won one of several grants from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment being given for cannabis research. The money for the grants was raised from the application fees from the state’s medical marijuana program and was being reinvested in the patients. Sisley’s winning of the grant comes after Colorado officials repeatedly declined to place PTSD on the state’s list of conditions that qualify for legal medical marijuana use, citing a lack of research. With $2.2 million of funding in hand, Sisley’s team began the tiresome chore of applying for approval for a marijuana based study – long criticized by both lawmakers and researchers for its time consuming and often invasive nature. Now, after finally receiving approval for the study, Sisley is anxious to get started, and America’s veterans are anxious to get the results. “It’s about time,” John Evans, a Navy veteran and the director of the group Veterans 4 Freedoms, was quoted saying in the Denver Post. “It’s been a long struggle. She’s jumped through a lot of hoops.” Medical Marijuana, Inc. applauds Dr. Sisley’s perseverance in working to help America’s troops, a cause we have long supported. This time last year, AXIM Biotechnologies, a Medical Marijuana, Inc. subsidiary was honored by the non-profit veterans organization Adopt-a-Soldier Platoon with a flag flown during a mission in Afghanistan for donating boxes of the company’s CanChew® CBD-infused gum to veterans in need. According to the non-profit sponsor of Sisley’s research, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, or MAPS, the DEA’s go ahead means they can now purchase the marijuana needed for the study from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). This is the first time the Drug Enforcement Administration has allowed the use of raw marijuana in a placebo-controlled clinical trial, according to the study’s supporters. Like with all DEA approved studies on marijuana, the cannabis used in the trials will come from the nation’s only licensed grower, the University of Mississippi. Sisley and her team hope as early as next month to begin enrolling the 76 veterans needed for the study. The veterans will come from Phoenix and Baltimore and will need to have been diagnosed with PTSD and have had no success with currently approved treatments. The study will test differing potencies and strains to see which, if any, the PTSD responds to. According to the MAPS website, “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.” Marcel Bonn-Miller, Ph.D., of the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, will oversee the study and its two clinical sites. Half of the study’s subjects will be treated by Dr. Sisley in Phoenix, and the other half by Dr. Ryan Vandrey, Ph.D., at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. Although the study could need another two years or more before any results are published, marijuana and veteran advocates both cheer this important step in PTSD research, as does Medical Marijuana, Inc. “Barriers to legalization are falling around the world, and it is great to see the USA being more progressive, which will allow significantly more research to be performed on the potential therapeutic benefits of cannabis,” stated Dr. Stuart Titus, CEO of Medical Marijuana, Inc. Despite anecdotal evidence from veterans, pleading from lawmakers, and an explosion of medical marijuana programs in our country, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has long said that “controlled studies have not been conducted on the safety and effectiveness of marijuana”. Dr. Sisley could finally change that. ]]>