Signaling a major shift in domestic drug policy, the U.S. federal government has signed off on a study of marijuana use for veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The study, to be conducted by Dr. Suzanne Sisley at the University of Arizona, will test the effects of five different THC potencies that will either be smoked or vaporized. 50 veterans will be studied.
Dr. Sisley calls the study’s federal approval “a historic shift in policy and medical marijuana drug development research.” Historically, all federally-approved studies on the effects of marijuana have been focused on the harmful aspects of the drug. Dr.Sisley clearly states that the focal point of her study is to identify potential benefits.
According to the National Center for PTSD, 11-20% of veterans that served in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD. It has long been argued the use medicinal marijuana has the potential to suppress symptoms including flashbacks, insomnia and anxiety.
Regarding symptom suppression, Dr.Sisley told USA Today that there is a “mountain of anecdotal evidence” for using marijuana to treat PTSD.
Marijuana is particularly difficult to research, due to its classification as a Schedule I drug under the Substance Act -- meaning it is considered as a drug with a high-risk of abuse with no medical applications.The American Medical Association has called for a change in marijuana’s classification, in order to make research more easily attainable, and eliminate barriers for doctors to prescribe medicinal marijuana to patients.
The study was already approved by the Food and Drug Administration, but without approval from the Department of Health and Human Services, researchers would not have been able to purchase marijuana from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the only government-sanctioned drug producer. The study now only seeks approval from the Drug Enforcement Administration, which is expected to be granted quickly.
The study is funded by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), which supports the broad-based legalization and medical research of marijuana and other drugs. According to a statement, "MAPS has been working for over 22 years to start marijuana drug development research, and this is the first time we've been granted permission to purchase marijuana from NIDA."
This study's go-ahead is a very positive sign for cannabis traders, as it shows a newfound institutional openness to the idea of marijuana usage as a legitimate medical tool.
The study's findings, meanwhile, have to potential to add a new element to the national debate on marijuana.
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