Despite the wealth of anecdotal evidence reporting that cannabis is effective at treating symptoms of PTSD among veterans, the federal government has constantly restricted vets’ access to the drug and interfered with attempts to conduct further research. At last, after seven years of fighting federal officials for approval, one doctor finally received approval from the FDA to begin a study on the effects of cannabis on veterans’ PTSD symptoms. This study, funded by a $2.15 million grant from the University of Colorado, is the world’s first controlled clinical trial to investigate whether using marijuana can help veterans cope with PTSD.
The study is being conducted by Dr. Sue Sisley, who has been fighting to help understand how cannabis can help veterans for years. Dr. Sisley actually used to be opposed to cannabis but had a change of heart after actually observing the effects of the plant on her patients.
“I was dismissive and judgmental, then I started losing a lot of vets in my practice to suicide, and it became a big wake-up call,” she said to Healio. “The veteran community has a higher rate of prescription drug overdose, and many vets discovered they can substitute cannabis for the more addictive medications they’ve been prescribed, which is how we started to examine this.”
The Department of Veterans Affairs has consistently shut down every attempt to give veterans access to medical cannabis. Late last year, the VA announced that its physicians were prohibited from recommending any cannabis-based treatment to veterans. The agency has rejected the growing body of research on the effectiveness of cannabis on PTSD, and even posted their own research claiming that cannabis was not an effective treatment. Dr. Sisley criticized this research, noting that they were biased observational studies and not controlled trials.