For the first time ever, a study to legally use medical marijuana has been approved by the Drug Enforcement Agency. The upcoming study will examine using medical marijuana to help veterans suffering through post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Though marijuana studies for PTSD have been done in the past, this is the first time that it will be a triple blind, randomized and placebo-controlled study that uses the cannabis plant rather than oils or a synthesized version of marijuana.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can happen to anyone who goes through a traumatic incident. However, veterans have high rates of PTSD, especially after facing war.
DEA Approves Medical Marijuana PTSD Treatment: A Third of Veterans Have PTSD
In a given year, between 11% to 20% of veterans who served in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom have PTSD, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). An estimated 31% of Vietnam veterans suffer from PTSD.
PTSD is terrible to endure and can lead to an increased risk of suicide. A 2012 VA study shows that 22 veterans commit suicide every day.
Since this is such a serious problem, researchers hope this groundbreaking study can make PTSD effects less severe.
No U.S. regulatory agency has ever approved of research of this nature, according to the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), the nonprofit organization sponsoring the study.
Dr. Suzanne Sisley, one of the doctors who will conduct the study, said that the approval came through six years after the idea was sent to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “It feels like a real triumph,” Sisley said to The Huffington Post. “It’s a chance for science to overcome politics.” She also said that veterans from all over the U.S. have given their anecdotal opinions on how marijuana helped relieve their PTSD.
The study could begin as early as June, since the marijuana has already been ordered.
MAPS told the Military Times that the contract was signed on April 20, “an official holiday in some cities.”
Seventy-six U.S. veterans will participate in the PTSD study. Four different strains of marijuana will be used for the study.
The various strains will have varying potency that researchers can use to learn about how different doses will impact side effects and overall benefits to the patient.
Colorado Grant Funds Study
A grant of $2.2 million from the Colorado Department of Health and Environment was used to fund this study.
Part of the research team comes from the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. This team will conduct their part of the study in Arizona. There are also researchers from Johns Hopkins University who will conduct their part of the study in Baltimore.
Additional research will take place at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
Researchers explained to The Huffington Post that the goal of the study is to see if medical marijuana could benefit veterans with PTSD and if so, to examine which strains work best.
Other than the potential benefit to the PTSD patients in the study, this research will also advance the medical field by filling a gap in current research.