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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Sisley firing raises big questions

    “The University of Arizona (UA) is a place without limits — where teaching, research, service and innovation merge to improve lives in Arizona and beyond,” the UA’s official website states. “We aren’t afraid to ask big questions, and find even better answers.”

    Despite this statement, the UA has shied away from big questions and is not giving any answers about why marijuana researcher Dr. Suzanne Sisley was stripped of her salary support and position as assistant professor at the UA.

    With the legalization and decriminalization of marijuana use trending across the U.S., including the legalization of recreational use in both Washington and Colorado, the need to study marijuana’s effects should no longer be hindered by concern over its status as an illegal drug. Unfortunately, Sisley’s pioneering research into medical marijuana as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder was nipped in the bud when she was fired for unknown reasons on June 27.

    The termination of this potentially promising research is unfortunate, but the complete lack of transparency by UA administrators about their reasons for dismissing a qualified medical researcher is more troubling. A graduate of the UA College of Medicine, Sisley was associate director of interprofessional education in the Arizona Telemedicine Program at the UA.

    With more than 100,000 supporters on a petition on and a Facebook page with nearly 5,000 likes, it is clear that veterans, supporters and fellow marijuana researchers are disappointed with Sisley’s termination and the delay in important research for people suffering from PTSD.

    Her research may be continued at Northern Arizona University or Arizona State University, causing UA to lose out on a promising field of study. It would be a shame if the oldest and most well-respected university in the Grand Canyon state fell behind on this cutting-edge area of medical research.

    Arizona legislators have reportedly stalled funding for Sisley’s research, a problem which may continue to plague Sisley if she continues her research at another Arizona university. Whether legislators like it or not, Arizona voters passed Proposition 203 in 2010, legalizing the use of medical marijuana in the state.

    It is poor public policy to prevent research of a legal medical treatment. It sets back medical and scientific knowledge and is a disservice to veterans and others who might have their lives improved by more sophisticated understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of marijuana-based medical treatment.

    Most of all, UA administrators need to be more forthcoming about the reasons for Sisley’s surprising and controversial dismissal. Outside pressure from politicians is one thing, but UA students expect better from the university administration, which is supposed to defend UA’s mission of open-minded inquiry, academic freedom and fearlessly tackling “big questions.”

    – Editorials are determined by the Arizona Summer Wildcat editorial board and written by its members. They are Ethan McSweeney, Mia Moran and Logan Rogers. They can be reached at or on Twitter @DailyWildcat

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