Cannabis, which in a healing context is often referred to as “medical marijuana,” can be smoked or orally ingested as an edible, a spray, or in oil form. Its medicinal effects are wide-ranging, among them relief from nausea, pain, and seizures, as well as an increased ability to relax, sleep, and to eat.
Cannabis and PTSD
At last count, 28 states and the District of Columbia had legalized medical marijuana. That still leaves many veterans out in the cold.
In April of 2016, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed the bipartisan Veterans Equal Access Amendment, which stipulated that VA doctors would be able to recommend medical marijuana to their patients in states where medical marijuana is legal. But it was stripped from the final appropriations package.
And marijuana remains a Schedule 1 substance under federal law, a draconian stance that has acted to hinder scientific research into its medical benefits. A case in point is the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies’ study investigating the medical efficacy of marijuana for treating PTSD in veterans.
The study is being headed up by Dr. Sue Sisley. Despite the Department of Health and Human Services approving the study protocol, in June 2014 Dr. Sisley’s appointment at the University of Arizona was terminated, prompting an outcry from vets. The school’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) approved the protocol for a new study location in Phoenix in the spring of 2015 and in September, the IRB at Johns Hopkins University provisionally approved the study protocol.
The on April 18, 2016, the DEA approved the Johns Hopkins University trial site (for an update on Johns Hopkins’ involvement, see here), and on April 19th, 2016, six years after MAPS opened an Investigational Drug Application, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) approved the trial site in Phoenix.
By March 15, 2017, five participants had received marijuana provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) in the ongoing Phase 2 clinical trial.
“Instead of having anxiety or depression, [cannabis] turns you into a euphoric state of mind where you’re understanding, oh yeah, life is good.” –James Sclar, Marine Corps veteran.
“[Cannabis] released my body—and my whole soul, I felt like—to just be in society, adapting to society, a lot easier.” –Joseph Cardoza, Afghan War veteran.
“[Pharmaceuticals] really mess you up.” –Iraq War Veteran and medical cannabis user Jake Scallion.
Dr. Sue Sisley on how cannabis can be used to manage multiple PTSD symptoms in vets, eliminating the need to take numerous individual pharmaceuticals.
Navy Veteran Kimberly Minton on how cannabis helps with depression, anxiety, and sleeplessness.
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