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Researchers Seek Approval to Study Effects of Marijuana on Veterans with PTSD


Researchers are asking the federal government for approval to study the effects of marijuana on veterans with chronic post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who have not responded to other treatment. The study would involve 50 combat veterans with PTSD, The New York Times reports.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent a letter to the researchers, from the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies in Santa Cruz, CA, and the University of Arizona College of Medicine, saying it was satisfied that they had addressed safety concerns about the study. The project still must be approved by a scientific review panel from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the article notes. The study must also be approved by an institutional review board and the Drug Enforcement Administration, researcher Rick Doblin said.

A spokeswoman for HHS told the newspaper that the study proposal is still being reviewed.

If the study goes forward, the researchers plan to use marijuana grown by the University of Mississippi, the only marijuana allowed in federally approved studies.

11 Responses to this article

  1. Ken Wolski / February 9, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    So how is that study on the effects of marijuana on veterans with PTSD coming along?

    Not happening, huh?

    No surprise there, since the DEA is the final arbiter of what clinical and scientific studies can be done on marijuana in America.

    Meanwhile veterans continue to commit suicide at an alarming rate because current therapy is ineffective for PTSD.

    There ought to be a law…

  2. Ken Wolski, RN / July 22, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    I certainly hope the PTSD trial goes through. Our suffering veterans deserve no less.

    It is absurd to have DEA be the final arbiter of what clinical and scientific studies can be done on marijuana in America. DEA is part of the Dept. of Justice—federal police. We should not have federal police guarding and limiting our scientific borders. This is inappropriate and unreasonable. Researchers have complained for over 30 years that access to marijuana for research purposes has consistently been stymied. (See: Marijuana, Medicine & the Law by R.C. Randall, 1988.)

    Prof. Lyle Craker from the U. Mass./Amherst faculty is a current example of an unsuccessful 10-year struggle to grow a sufficient supply of marijuana to conduct large scale clinical trials. Prof. Craker’s research was approved by the university and the FDA, but DEA refused to allow him to proceed. The professor took DEA to court and DEA’s own Judge Bittner ruled the professor should proceed, but DEA overruled the judge:

    Now DEA recently said it cannot reschedule marijuana in part because no large scale clinical trials have been done:

    This is beyond Kafkaesque. It is an embarrassment to science, to countless health care professionals and to patients nationwide.

  3. Julian / July 19, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    This has already been researched. Performing a search, marijuana use in vietnam veterans, in PubMed will retrieve 17 records.Joe Rinehart had it right. Ask the vets that used before, during, and/or afterwards.

  4. Fred C / July 19, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    You are all missing the point. This is actually a move toward loosen the restrictions on Medical Marijuana. The DEA issued its opinion as mentioned in the July 12 article in this publication. The important quote is:
    “The Los Angeles Times reports that the DEA made the decision almost nine years after supporters of medical marijuana asked the government to reclassify the drug in light of research about its effectiveness in treating certain diseases such as multiple sclerosis and glaucoma. According to the newspaper, the decision now allows proponents of medical marijuana to appeal to the federal courts.” (my underlining).
    It is not a coincidence that this request as made just days after the DEA released its findings. The request could not have been made until the DEA had issued its decision. If they truly had wanted to block it they could have just delayed release of the decision for another 9 years. This way they have cleared the path, while still appearing to be tough on medical marijuana, (MMJ). The FDA has also signed on by saying it has approved the protocols for safety without saying they are in favor of MMJ. Remember, elections are coming up and no one wants to appear to be soft on drugs. Now it goes to the HHS where they can figure out a way to approve it while still appearing to disapprove. Remember, this is politics, you must read between the lines.
    I should add my opinion that MJ is not a “good” drug, and should not be approved for everyone’s use. As an ex user (from Vietnam days) and a current substance abuse counselor, I see it as only a band-aid, not a cure, for PTSD. However, some of my fellow veterans from that war are still bleeding, and any band-aid is better than none. The Iraq and Afgan vets are returning with unprecedented levels of PTSD, and psychological services are being overwhelmed, not a good thing in times of shrinking budgets. PTSD symptoms can be treated, but if a little MMJ can ease symptoms until veterans can be seen, I’m for it.

  5. Jason / July 19, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Dear Steve, marijuana is a small part of the drug war. The DEA doesn’t need it to keep their paychecks flowing.

  6. Avatar of Joe Rinehart
    Joe Rinehart / July 19, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    Hmmm. Maybe someone should ask those thousands of Viet Nam vets who have been using MJ for the last 40+ years.

  7. Steve Westen / July 19, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    Studies like this come up time and time again in relation to sciene wanting to do research on cannabis for a multitude of reasoning, to only have the DEA shut it all down. The DEA has the ability to say no to anything related to cannabis research, as they have deemed it a schedule I narcotic, which states it has no known medical uses and thus is not allowed for clinical studies on humans. They use this tactic to continue propelling their civil war, thus keeping their paychecks flowing. How they can say it has no medicinal value is mind blowing. How are we suppose to “determine” what medicinal benefits a plant has, if we are unable to study it. Plus it’s a complete spit in our face, as it’s mentioned above, the federal government already has implemented cannabis into its Investigational New Drug Program ( to where the federal government disperses cannabis to multiple patients; yet they say it has no medicinal value. Wake up everyone! Band together and stand as one agaisnt the tyranical rule of the DEA. Join your local NORML, SSDP or other cannabis law reform group and make a difference in our community. Make it safe to use a safer alternative to medication and recreational substances.

  8. Dan Cook, LISAC / July 19, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    Hi Steve,
    I find it sad but typical of our hypocritical society that taking psych drugs day in and day out for the rest of ones life are OK but when someone wants to get stoned to deal with psychological issues that is a crime.

    Dan Cook, LISAC

  9. Steve Westen / July 20, 2011 at 9:22 am

    Fred, I’m a bit lost in what you thought I missed. I am also confused by the quote you said or that you may be confused about the DEA’s actual position. First, the release from the DEA stated that they will not be reshceduling cannabis from a schedule 1 narcotic. Being a schedule 1 narcotic means that it has no medicinal value and that the DEA has the final say in whether or not someone can use a drug in schedule 1 for tests on human subjects. Because the DEA has not changed their position on re-scheduling cannabis, I don’t see how this loosens the restrictions. I am not so much challening you, but am interested in where this information came from. Also, people were always able appeal the decisions. There is a professor in Massachusettes that has been fighting with the DEA for count-less years to study cannabis and they denied him everytime.

    I too an an addictions counselor, along with being a recovering addict. Just because something is approved to be used by anyone doesn’t mean that everyone should use it; especially those who have addictions to similar substances. Do you view all psych medications as band-aids, as the real issues can only truly be addressed through counselign and self-reflection?

  10. Steve Westen / July 21, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Marijuana constitutes almost half of all drug arrests, and between 1990–2002, out of the overall drug arrests, 82% of the increase was for marijuana. (

    In 2010 roughly 800,000 arrests were made duer to cannabis.

    Now that we see how prevalent and increasing drug arrests are in relation to cannabis, lets look at the DEA’s budget.

    As you will see here, that as the years have gone by, the budget for the DEA and the arrest rate iof individuals for cannabis has steadily increased at a very similar rate. One could onyl come to the conclusion that, if one goes up the other gues up… which in turn means… when one goes down, so does the other. Why would the DEA need so many employees, if they no longer had to staff the amount of employees that is needed to arrest and prosecute over 800,000 arrests a year. They spend half their current time on cannabis. And there just isn’t enough “other drugs” to call for the insanely large budget that they have.

  11. Joe / July 22, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    Right on Dan.

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