Five years ago, Sue Sisley applied to conduct a clinical trial that could change the course of PTSD treatment for veterans and that could, quite possibly, be one of the most historic clinical trials ever conducted in the United States. Her hope was to study the potential of smoked medical marijuana as a treatment for PTSD – which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration back in 2011.
Unfortunately, anything to do with marijuana research is something that the government is not going to jump on quickly – and it was continuously put off over the next five years. Two years ago, in 2014, the University of Arizona terminated the contract with Sisley after certain state politicians objected to the use of cannabis in the study she was planning.
The good news was that she was later able to join up with researchers from Johns Hopkins University (Ryan Vandrey) and the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine (Marcel Bonn-Miller). The research will be overseen by Bonn-Miller and the actual clinical studies will be carried out by Sisley in Phoenix and Vandrey in Baltimore.
In order to get started all they needed was the approval of the Drug Enforcement Administration – which was finally granted to them, and if all goes well they will be starting the trials as soon as this June. They will need a total of 40 patients for both locations – some veterans have shown an interest in temporarily relocating to participate in the study, though the criteria to be considered is rather strict.
Patients who participate in the study will need to be diagnosed with PTSD and have little to no success with more traditional methods of treatment. Any patients who are currently being treated with medical marijuana will need to abstain from it for as long as possible leading up to the clinical trial – and they may not even be selected to use cannabis over a placebo since the trial will be entirely randomized.
The study is meant to evaluate the use of certain types of marijuana strains with different levels of THC and CBD and different dosages to find the most effective way to use medical marijuana to treat PTSD. The patients will be randomly given with federally approved medical marijuana in smokable form or a placebo (not entirely sure if you would be able to fool a previous medical marijuana patient with a placebo in this scenario – they might notice right away).
A grant from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for $2 million will be funding this research. This is a huge step forward in marijuana research – this is the first federally funded study where the benefits of smoked cannabis is going to be evaluated – with positive results, which we’re all expecting if the study is honest, this could be a game changer for the future of marijuana reform and medical marijuana studies.