A petition launched on Change.org by an Arizona veteran has gathered over 100,000 signatures in support of Dr. Sue Sisley’s efforts to initiate medical marijuana research in Arizona. Launched on July 10, the petition reached 100,000 signatures in just 21 days.
Ricardo Pereyda, U.S. Army (Ret.)
Adam Eidinger, Mintwood Strategies
PHOENIX, Ariz.—A petition launched on Change.org by an Arizona veteran has gathered over 100,000 signatures in support of Dr. Sue Sisley’s efforts to initiate medical marijuana research in Arizona. Launched on July 10, the petition reached 100,000 signatures in just 21 days.
The public outcry against Dr. Sisley’s dismissal from the University of Arizona has reached a national audience. On June 27, the University of Arizona notified Dr. Sisley that her university appointments would be terminated as of September 26. On July 28, the University of Arizona expectedly denied Dr. Sisley’s appeal for reinstatement, forcing Dr. Sisley to seek a new location for the study.
Arizona veteran Ricardo Pereyda, who launched the petition, writes: “The Arizona Board of Regents must reinstate Dr. Sisley at one of our other public universities, providing her with the necessary space and resources she needs to conduct her research. Her study could mean life or death for many veterans. ‘Bigger Questions, Better Answers’ is the motto The University of Arizona has failed to live up to—let’s see if Northern Arizona University or Arizona State University will take up the challenge.”
The petition originally called for Dr. Sisley’s reappointment at the University of Arizona. Following the rejection of her appeal, Pereyda updated the petition to encourage the Arizona Board of Regents help her find a new home for the study at another Arizona university.
Dr. Sisley has been working with the nonprofit Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) since 2010 to initiate a study of the safety and effectiveness of whole plant marijuana for symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in 70 U.S. veterans. The study has approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the University of Arizona Institutional Review Board. In March 2014, the study became the first whole plant medical marijuana drug development research to receive approval from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to purchase marijuana from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), which maintains a monopoly on marijuana for research in the U.S. NIDA has reported that it will not be able to provide the marijuana needed for the study until about January 2015.
With reinstatement at the University of Arizona no longer a possibility, MAPS and Dr. Sisley are seeking a new location for the study within Arizona. Multiple universities outside Arizona have already offered to host the study.
The University of Arizona has stated that it views the study as important and proposed a new Principal Investigator. “We appreciate that UA has taken a public position in favor of this research taking place at UA, but MAPS will not fire Dr. Sisley as the Principal Investigator,” says MAPS founder and executive director Rick Doblin, Ph.D. “Instead, we appeal to the Arizona Board of Regents to permit Dr. Sisley to move herself and the study to another Arizona state university.”
On July 22, Dr. Andrew Weil, founder of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, wrote a letter to University of Arizona President Dr. Ann Weaver Hart expressing his support for Dr. Sisley’s work. “Dr. Sisley has passionately chosen her professional obligation to patients over political pressure; she has chosen science over dogma; and has chosen integrity over censorship. This is the type of individual any University should want on their faculty.”
“This research is long overdue and veterans are dying every day who may be able to benefit from it,” says Drug Policy Alliance Policy Coordinator Jessica Gelay. “By finding a home for MAPS and Dr. Sisley’s research in Arizona, the Arizona Board of Regents now has a chance to help find out whether marijuana can help save the lives of veterans.”
On August 7, the Arizona Board of Regents will hold a closed Executive Committee meeting. MAPS and Dr. Sisley encourage the Board of Regents to listen to the more than 100,000 voices now calling on them to help her find a home for the study in Arizona.