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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Marijuana, PTSD study waits for OK


PHOENIX — The UA College of Medicine in Phoenix is waiting for approval to conduct a study that will determine whether marijuana can be used as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.

The study is led by Dr. Suzanne A. Sisley, assistant director of interprofessional education and assistant professor of internal medicine and psychiatry, and will employ a two-stage process to analyze how different doses of marijuana will affect the symptoms of PTSD. The hypothesis is that symptoms will ease as the dosage increases.

The study is focused on soldiers returning from combat with PTSD, but there have been discussions to expand the criteria to people who have suffered from military sexual trauma.

With the study, Sisley is hoping to open new doors in the world of medicinal marijuana.

“We want to make sure that the terminally ill have access to marijuana as a medicine,” Sisley said at a presentation in Phoenix on Tuesday.

She also said that she has heard numerous reports of marijuana successfully treating PTSD, which is how she became interested in the study. Funding, all from private entities, will begin once the approval process has been completed.

“We don’t want any funding from the government or through any taxes,” Sisley said.

As with most studies involving illegal substances, the project has already encountered several legal and political roadblocks. While the Food and Drug Administration has approved the study, it still has yet to receive approval from the Drug Enforcement Administration and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. This has kept the study in its planning stages since Nov. 12, and is the last piece of clearance Sisley and her team must obtain before conducting the investigation.

While medicinal marijuana has plenty of government opposition, there is some support for this study in particular.

“We need to fulfill the desire to use this mainstream medicine,” said Valerie Miranda, a non-practicing medical doctor from Phoenix. “Studies have shown that it can treat numerous illnesses, but it’s just not being used because of political reasons.”

Kendric Speagle, the chief development officer for Compassion First, LLC, a company that provides products and services to medical marijuana dispensaries in Arizona, is advocating for the push to make marijuana a legal option for the mentally ill.

“There is no mental health qualification in Arizona,” Speagle said. “We want the state to add mental health to its qualifying conditions so that people suffering from disorders like PTSD can get treatment with medical marijuana.”

Sisley said that overall, she would like to see the study help in the advancement toward the decriminalization of marijuana, as well as wider use of marijuana as a medicine.

“I think that science has been shackled by politics,” she said. “I think that using marijuana medically is in the public interest, and it’s up to us to apply the pressure.”

Six to 10 percent of the American population suffers from PTSD, and it is predicted that 18 percent of soldiers returning from Iraq will also have the disorder, Sisley said.

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