NIDA Approves Medical Cannabis Study for PTSD

My Chronic Relief commends University of Arizona researcher Dr. Sue Sisley and MAPS for their persistence in pushing for government approval for marijuana research, highlighting that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has approved their request to purchase research-grade marijuana for an FDA-approved study into the potential benefits of medical marijuana to treat symptoms of PTSD in U.S. veterans. The article explains the final steps to be completed before the study can begin, explaining that the researchers still require DEA approval and a source of funding.

Originally appearing here.

PTSD Medical Cannabis Study APPROVED!

Congratulations to psychiatrist Sue Sisley, a researcher at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, and to the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), who are a step closer to studying how medical cannabis affects veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.  The federal government has signed off on a long-delayed study looking at cannabis as a treatment for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a development that drug researchers are hailing as a major shift in U.S. policy.

Sisley’s study proposal has made its way through the federal government for three years. In 2011, she received approval by the Food and Drug Administration. On Friday, the study cleared another major hurdle when the Public Health Service, part of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), gave its approval.  The Department of Health and Human Services’ decision surprised cannabis advocates who have struggled for decades to secure federal approval for research into the drug’s medical uses.

“MAPS has been working for over 22 years to start marijuana drug development research, and this is the first time we’ve been granted permission to purchase marijuana from NIDA,” the Boston-based group said in a statement.
It is important to note that cannabis is the only Schedule I drug that must go through the extra step of an HHS review board.  This step has been a major hurdle in the advancement of medical cannabis research conducted in the United States.

The DEA is the Last Step in the PTSD Cannabis Research Study

Now Sisley is waiting on approval from a third and final agency — the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) — before she can start her research. It’s unclear how long the DEA will take.

Washington Post writer Ariana Eunjung Cha, wrote in an interesting article published March 21, that “spokesperson Dawn Dearden said that the agency is supportive of medical research on marijuana but needs to follow regulations under the Controlled Substances Act. “DEA has not denied DEA registration to a HHS-approved marijuana study in the last 20-plus years,” she said. “Those words leave us, MAPS and the entire medical cannabis community cautiously optimistic.

Although there is a “mountain of anecdotal evidence” that cannabis helps with PTSD, there has been no controlled trial to test how marijuana suppresses the symptoms, including flashbacks, insomnia and anxiety, said Suzanne Sisley, the study’s lead researcher.

Medical Cannabis Research for PTSD Will Measure Effectiveness

Sisley’s study will measure the effects of five different potencies of smoked or vaporized cannabis in treating symptoms of PTSD in 50 veterans.

The Veterans Administration estimates between 11-20% of soldiers who served in the recent Iraq and Afghanistan wars have PTSD, which can cause anxiety, flashbacks, depression and sleep deprivation. About 7.7 million American adults are estimated to have the disorder.

The Cost of Cannabis Research for PTSD

“It’s hopefully a great starting point to begin to uncover some innovative ways of treating PTSD,” Sisley told media. The cost of this study is approximately $750K.  Hopes for receiving state funding from the Arizona legislature were dashed last week, when Education Committee Chair, Senator Kimberly Yee refused to hear the bill.  “Regardless, the research will be funded,” said Brad Burge, Director of Communications & Marketing for MAPS. He explained that MAPS will be raising funds from grants, organizations, and private citizens who support this research.

We hope that the DEA provides clearance quickly so that this study can be conducted to further understand the benefits of this legitimate medicine.

To learn more about the work of Dr. Sisley and the Multidisciplinary Association on Psychedelic Studies please visit their website at .