"Military veterans may soon find out just how effectively cannabis can treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has given approval to study the effects of medical marijuana on post-traumatic stress disorder, marking the first U.S. study on PTSD that will use actual raw cannabis in its clinical trial, reports the Denver Post.
According to the research’s non-profit sponsor, Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) the approval now gives researchers clearance to buy the marijuana for the study from the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA).
“This is a critical step in moving our botanical drug development program forward at the federal level to gather information on the dosing, risks, and benefits of smoked marijuana for PTSD symptoms,” said Amy Emerson, director of clinical research for the MAPS Public Benefit Corporation, to the Military Times.
Despite a glaring lack of medical research, many war veterans have turned to using medical marijuana with high amounts of its main psychoactive compound THC to combat the dreaded symptoms of PTSD. Only five out of 23 states with medical marijuana laws list PTSD as a qualifying condition.
The study first received approval from the department of Health and Human Services in March 2014 and was set to be conducted at the University of Arizona among other locations, but was delayed when the school controversially terminatedthe contract of the program’s original primary researcher, Dr. Sue Sisley.
“Mostly we’re just grateful that we get to see science move forward,” said Dr. Sisley to the Post.
The University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine’s Marcel Bonn-Miller is now head of the project, with Sisley running half the study in Arizona while the other half will be conducted at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.
Although the study now has DEA approval, Sisley cautions that the study could take years to collect and analyze data from veterans enrolled in the program. Results may not be published until 2019.
Despite the lengthy process, Sisley still believes the DEA’s approval was the right decision.
“The study needs to happen because these veterans have legitimate questions,” Sisley told the Post."