Study proposed to determine value of marijuana in treating post-traumatic stress disorder

Marijuana may not cure the summertime blues, but there are those who think it can cure post-traumatic stress disorder, especially among veterans.

Dave Wanzenreid, a longtime Montana legislator and current candidate for governor told The Colorado Independent earlier this year that veterans would be among the people most hurt when the Montana Legislature passed a bill to severely restrict access to medical marijuana in Montana.

From that story:

He said the push to eliminate medical marijuana or regulate it so tightly that it is virtually banned is coming from the far right. He said the effort may backfire, noting that many right-wing voters are patients themselves.

For instance, he said, many veterans are patients. Many veterans, he said, have lived with either pain or narcotics or both for years. “With medical marijuana, many veterans tell me they are 70 to 80 percent pain free and are less susceptible to post traumatic stress as well. Many of them have told me they are getting their lives back and becoming productive again because of medical marijuana.”

Today, in an article with a Denver dateline, The New York Times reports that a major study on marijuana as a treatment for PTSD will be launched as soon as the study receives federal approval.

For years now, some veterans groups and marijuana advocates have argued that the therapeutic benefits of the drug can help soothe the psychological wounds of battle. But with only anecdotal evidence as support, their claims have yet to gain widespread acceptance in medical circles.

Now, however, researchers are seeking federal approval for what is believed to be the first study to examine the effects of marijuana on veterans with chronic post-traumatic stress disorder.

The proposal, from the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies in Santa Cruz, Calif., and a researcher at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, would look at the potential benefits of cannabis by examining 50 combat veterans who suffer from the condition and have not responded to other treatment.

Getting federal approval may be difficult, however.

Getting final approval from the federal government could prove difficult, Mr. (Rick) Doblin and Dr. (Sue) Sisley conceded. They said it was far more challenging to get authorization for a study that examines the benefits of an illegal drug than its risks.

“We really believe science should supersede politics,” Dr. Sisley said. “This illness needs to be treated in a multidisciplinary way. Drugs like Zoloft and Paxil have proven entirely inadequate. And there’s anecdotal evidence from vets that cannabis can provide systematic relief.”

Sisley and Doblin are the study’s directors.

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