It's a historic moment in medical marijuana research. For the first time, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has given its full approval to a clinical trial on marijuana's applications as a legal prescription drug.
The study will be conducted by California's Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) in partnership with Dr. Sue Sisley. She had lost her job at the University of Arizona in 2014 after complaints about her cannabis-related advocacy, but has since worked tirelessly to start one of the first large-scale studies into how marijuana can help combat PTSD, with the aid of a $2-million-grant from the Medical Marijuana Scientific Advisory Council.
The study, which will take place in Arizona and Colorado, will recruit 76 veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to participate in a randomized, blinded, placebo-controlled study utilizing four different potencies of marijuana. The Colorado Department of Public Health will also kick in more than $2-million to fund the study.
A huge victory of marijuana researchers
The DEA approval represents a watershed moment for medical marijuana research. As MAPS says on it site, "Our efforts to initiate medical marijuana research have been hindered by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) since our founding in 1986. NIDA's monopoly on the supply of marijuana for research and the DEA's refusal to allow researchers to grow their own has restricted medical marijuana research for decades. For over 12 years, MAPS was involved in legal struggles against the DEA to end this situation."
The DEA has now granted permission to allow federally-grown marijuana from a small farm at the University of Mississippi, which is produced under the oversight of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, to be used in the study. The cannabis is expected to be shipped to researchers within the coming weeks.
While no veterans have yet been selected for the trials yet, Sisley told The Phoenix New Times hundreds of would-be participants have contacted her via phone and email. Since some participants may drop out, more than 76 vets will be recruited.
Veterans who may qualify for the program, and want to participate, should e-mail [email protected] for more information.