A potentially groundbreaking study on veterans and PTSD stands at a crossroads. After seven years of trying to get approval by the DEA, Dr. Sue Sisley finally received the go-ahead. However, the study hasn’t met its quota for volunteers approved for the study. Now, as the deadline looms, the study may face reduction or even cancellation.
Finding the right volunteers for the task
The study aims to get 76 volunteers to participate in the study. However, those 76 need to fit the strict study parameters. Over 4,000 volunteers so far submitted to screening. Of those, only 22 met all criteria.
Sisley wants the study to narrow in on PTSD in combat veterans in an unprecedented comprehensive analysis. To do that, all other factors must be eliminated. So the winnowing continues.
Despite DEA support and American Legion backing, Sisley says that the VA stands as a roadblock to greater patient access.
VA prohibits discussion
The VA remains stubborn on preventing their doctors from even discussing cannabis as a viable treatment. Instead, veterans face prescriptions of dangerous and addictive pharmaceuticals with no alternative. Sisley’s study could prove what countless veterans already know. Cannabis is more than an alternative treatment, it is a better one.
Across the country, veterans face denial of their coverage and benefits if they use cannabis while under VA care for certain conditions. Even in legal states, the subject remains forbidden.
Sisley complained about lack of VA support for even discussing the study with potential candidates. Their sheer volume of patients would invariably boost the number of qualified participants. However, VA Press Secretary Curt Cashour states she could look elsewhere for help.
Federal law restricts VA’s ability to conduct research involving medical marijuana, or to refer veterans to such research projects. The researcher is free to work with veterans service organizations and state veterans officials who may not face such restrictions to identify candidates for her study.
A lot of effort wasted?
Dr. Sue Sisley’s landmark study takes place in Arizona, a state known for making it hard on medical cannabis. But with the highest density of potential qualifying patients, it makes the best location. The study was made possible by a $2.16 million grant from the Colorado Dept. of Public Health and Environment.
The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) will run it, in conjunction with the Scottsdale Research Institute. Sisley leads the study and hopes it will change veteran care for the better.
The deadline for meeting the quota for test subjects is October 1st, less than a month away. From the beginning, the hurdles to get underway have included DEA delays, NIDA restrictions, Sisley’s own dismissal from the University of Arizona for participation, and withdrawal of a second testing site from the study.
NIDA restricts studies to using only cannabis supplied by the University of Mississippi. When Sisley received the first batch for the study, it tested positive for mold, lead, and a completely wrong cannabinoid profile. Johns Hopkins pulled out immediately following the sample testing.
How to help
Qualified applicants should have a history of treatment-resistant PTSD. Ideal candidates should have a disability rating from the VA, and can have traumatic brain injuries, but must be otherwise healthy.
If you or a veteran you know meets these criteria, get in touch with MAPS on their website to volunteer.