Dr. Sue Sisley is one of the doctors in the forefront of cannabis research and now has a full FDA approved study to analyze the effects of marijuana on veterans suffering from PTSD. Like most pioneers in the cannabis sector, Dr. Sisley has faced many challenges as an advocate for medical cannabis including losing her position at the University of Arizona.
Her new study has reached phase 2, is in its third year and is also the first FDA approved study involving the pure marijuana plant. The military veteran subjects of the study are sent home with cannabis flower after a familiarization stage. The cannabis is provided by the federal government and contains seeds, sticks and is not very potent, but gaining FDA approval is a significant accomplishment.
“I was dismissive and judgmental, then I started losing a lot of vets in my practice to suicide, and it became a big wake-up call,” she said. “… The veteran community has a higher rate of prescription drug overdose, and many vets discovered they can substitute cannabis for the more addictive medications they’ve been prescribed, which is how we started to examine this.”
The study, which is funded by a $2.15 million grant from University of Colorado, is the first controlled clinical trial in the world to evaluate smoked medical cannabis as treatment for PTSD.
After what Sisley described as a 7-year struggle with the government, she finally received the “golden ticket” to begin her research.
The phase 2, triple-blind, outpatient, randomized, placebo-controlled study includes 60 veterans who were randomly assigned to one of four arms: high THC (12%), high CBD (12%), 1:1 ratio of THC to CBD (8%/8%), or placebo.
Our military veterans are one of the most affected groups in the country by the opioid epidemic since the Department of Veterans Affairs has fumbled their treatments disastrously. First, VA doctors over prescribed highly addictive opioid based drugs to combat symptoms such as PTSD and chronic pain and then were forced to under prescribe them in an attempt to slow down the rate of overdoses and the amount of prescription drugs leaking into the black market. Veterans have argued for a long time that marijuana has been an effective treatment for both PTSD and chronic pain but the federal prohibition of marijuana has made it challenging for the medical community to research the effectiveness of the treatment.