Cannabis PTSD Study Canceled Due to Politics
July 18th, 2014
Policy, Top News
Dr. Sue Sisley became the only academic in the U.S. and one of just 15 people to get approval to conduct a marijuana-related study over the last two decades in April of this year, with the goal of studying medical marijuana’s effect on post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”) in U.S. veterans. Just three months later, Dr. Sisley was terminated from the University of Arizona and stripped of the institution, people, and funding that her study relied upon to succeed.
While Dr. Sisley began as a marijuana skeptic, stories from U.S. veterans about the effects of PTSD and the lack of efficacy from traditional medication made her reconsider. She ultimately decided on a triple-blind randomized control trial of marijuana’s effect on 70 veterans suffering from PTSD, with the goal of challenging the federal government’s “schedule I substance” classification, which suggests that the drug has “no currently accepted medical value”.
The U.S. Federal Drug Administration (“FDA”) signed off within days, followed by the Department of Health and Human Services after several years. Unfortunately, Arizona State Senator Kimberly Yee blocked a Hearing of House Bill 2333 that would permit medical marijuana card holder fees to fund Sisley’s research. The funds would instead be used only to “prevent drug use” rather than study it.
Arizona State Senate President Andy Biggs also sought to add an addendum to budget bill HR2703 proposing that no university resources or general fund monies ever go to support marijuana research, although that was removed after Dr. Sisley released a photo of the addendum to the media. Biggs reportedly responded by asking the university for all records of Sisley’s e-mails, texts and communications.
Without the ability to gain funding and given the request for records, the university eventually informed Dr. Sisley that they would not be renewing her contract and that the study was effectively grounded.
Additional coverage is available at The Daily Beast.
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