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Marijuana as a Treatment for PTSD? A Future Study Could Prove This.


A study might show that marijuana could treat the mental illness, PTSD.

By: Michelle Monteiro, Staff Writer

KEY POINTS AT A GLANCE:

  1. Medicinal marijuana could be used to treat PTSD according to Suzanna Sisley, a researcher in the University of Arizona
  2. Sisley claims that the drug can help remedy PTSD symptoms including insomnia, anxiety, depression, and flashbacks
  3. The study needs to be approved first

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to Canadian Mental Health Association, is a mental illness involving “exposure to trauma involving death, the threat of death, serious injury, or sexual violence” and is a rising concern, especially for soldiers and veterans returning home from wars.

In Canada, about 1 in 10 individuals meet the criteria for PTSD at some point in his or her lifetime; Veterans Affairs claims that about eleven to twenty percent of American military service personnel who served duties in Iraq or Afghanistan have PTSD.

There is no specific treatment for this illness, but medicinal marijuana could be used to treat PTSD if University of Arizona researcher, Suzanna Sisley’s, proposal to study the effects of marijuana on PTSD veterans is approved by all the required government agencies.

Sisley claims that the drug can help remedy PTSD symptoms including insomnia, anxiety, depression, and flashbacks; however, her claims cannot be confirmed until a controlled trial to assess the theory is conducted.

It has been three years since first trying to get the study approved. In 2011, Sisley received approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but was unable to obtain the marijuana needed for the study from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). However, the study was approved from the Public Health Service of the U.S Department of Health and Human Services earlier this month.

In addition, the agency bestowed authorization for Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) to purchase the marijuana from the NIDA. The drug used for the future study will come from the University of Mississippi’s federally sanctioned marijuana research farm.

Sisley, the leader of this future study, is awaiting approval from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) so the research can begin.

According to Sisley, the study will last ten weeks and involve fifty veterans who have moderate to severe symptoms of PTSD. These participants will smoke or vaporize the marijuana in different amounts, specifically five different amounts, ranging from a simple placebo to twelve percent. Additionally, the study will examine the difference between smoking and vaporizing the drug.

Despite this turn in U.S policy, allowing for research of the drug other than drug abuse and addiction risks, marijuana is still classified as a high potential for abuse and having no medical uses. Michael Krawitz, the director of Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access, said, “since there are no federal laws on medical marijuana, state laws are the only way to protect veterans’ access to cannabis”. There are only six states in the United States (Nevada, Maine, New Mexico, Delaware, Connecticut, and Oregon) that list PTSD as a condition qualified to receive medicinal marijuana.

The American Medical Association has requested for the classification of marijuana to be changed so there can be easier access to the drug for medical research. If Sisley’s study proves her theory, the future of PTSD will drastically change.

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Author Bio:

Known as Michelle, she has been writing since hands could grasp paper and pencils. She has learned that a pencil is an extension of the hand, a gateway to the psyche. Currently, she’s an undergraduate at the University of Toronto, completing a BA in English. For more of her quirkiness, follow her blog at http://therealmichellemonteiro.wordpress.com

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