MAPS is preparing a marijuana/PTSD pilot study in veterans of war to be conducted by Principal Investigator Sue Sisley, M.D. in Arizona. The protocol is close to being submitted to the FDA after having been reviewed, critiqued, and revised by several outside experts. The study is being developed in response to anecdotal reports of marijuana being used to alleviate PTSD symptoms. At present, there is no published data from a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study of the risks and benefits of marijuana for chronic PTSD sufferers.
Forty subjects will be randomly allocated to one of four treatment groups. Each subject will be provided with two rolled cigarettes daily, each weighing 0.9 grams, the standard-size marijuana cigarette provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The cigarettes will contain either (1) 2% D9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), (2) 6% THC, (3) 6% THC and 6% cannabidiol (CBD), or (4) 12% THC. The subjects who receive 2% THC will serve as the low-dose/active placebo group; while an ideal placebo would not contain any potentially therapeutic action, previous research has shown completely inactive marijuana is rarely effective at producing an effective double-blind. Marijuana will be self-administered daily on an outpatient basis for four weeks, followed by two weeks of none. Within each treatment group, five of 10 subjects will smoke marijuana cigarettes; the other five are assigned to use a vaporizer.
In this groundbreaking study, marijuana will be used as a pharmacological medicine without associated psychotherapy. The primary outcome variable measuring the severity of PTSD will be the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS), required by FDA and the European Medicines Agency (EMEA).
At present, the NIDA does not produce any marijuana with significant levels of CBD. We are specifically requesting NIDA produce such a strain for this study. NIDA has previously indicated that it could provide any marijuana strains requested by researchers. Should NIDA be unable to provide marijuana with CBD—due to NIDA’s monopoly on the supply of marijuana for FDA-regulated research—we would have no other sources of supply and we would be forced to eliminate the 6% THC/6% CBD group from the protocol.