Researchers have just completed the world’s first FDA approved clinical trial evaluating smoked marijuana and how it affects those suffering from PTSD.

By Pete Sessa

The never-ending debate on cannabis and its legitimacy continues. For the first time ever, psychiatry is attempting to explore how this plant may offer relief towards psychiatric symptoms. The focus for this article is PTSD, especially concerning military veterans.

What is PTSD exactly? Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, rape or other violent personal assault. Survivors of PTSD experience symptoms after the trauma has taken place. Often, these symptoms are debilitating. Symptoms can include, recurring memories or nightmares of the event, anger, irritability, feeling on guard, loss of interest, numbness, etc. 

Physician Sue Sisley, M.D., designed an FDA approved study, to observe cannabis and PTSD in military veterans. While Sisley has treated patients who suffered from PTSD and reaped desired effects from using cannabis, she has experienced a difficult journey trying to gain support for her study. 

First, Dr. Sisley was terminated from the University of Arizona after becoming the principal investigator for the cannabis study. She then began a back and forth with the U.S. government for years, trying to begin her research. Sisley finally received the okay in 2017 to begin her quest and has since been on the hunt to attain answers. 

The study is funded by a grant from the University of Colorado called The California-based Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. They are a nonprofit and will be providing $2.15 million dollars in efforts to understand how cannabis may help these survivors. The study is the first controlled clinical trial in the world that evaluates smoked medical marijuana and how it affects those suffering from PTSD.

A triple-blinded experiment, neither participants, researchers, and evaluators would know the potency of marijuana received. The study included 76 military veterans who suffered from PTSD who were each given 1.8 grams of marijuana per day in varying potencies. The participants chose how much marijuana to smoke and were asked to keep a daily journal. 

Approved marijuana was supplied by the government for the study, but in order to continue into different phases of the experiment, supplies will have to be restored. During Barak Obama’s presidency, the DEA agreed to license more growers to produce marijuana for research. Years later, no efforts have been made to solidify or execute the original plan. 

It seems that since the birth of this idea and any executions, there have been consistent and repeated obstacles to hinder any results. This realization does not bode well within the scientific community. 

One might argue, as to why, the politics of a nation are dictating and hindering potentially helpful scientific discovery? The potential knowledge gained might be able to mollify those who served our country at its most vulnerable. They are the ones who need our help the most due to the inevitable scars of such battles. It seems that further scientific exploration and implementation of such novel ideas needs to take place and be met with upmost support, not resistance.