Support the Troops – Let Them Treat PTSD with Cannabis

Alex Pietrowski
Activist Post

It’s a tough time to be a US military veteran. Not only is there no end in sight for US foreign interventions, but the economy here at home is in terrible shape, veterans are seeing record numbers of suicides, extremely high levels of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), nearly a million US vets are on food stamps, and to make matters worse, veteran’s benefits are being cut by the Federal government, again.

On top of this, it appears that the US Public Health Service (PHS) is stone-walling legitimate and legal efforts by the FDA and the University of Arizona to study how the natural medicine Cannabis may be of significant value in treating PTSD.

PTSD is considered a life-threatening illness, as people suffering from PTSD are at increased risk of homelessness, drug abuse and alcoholism, and are more likely to commit suicide.

Cannabis has, in recent years, gained tremendous popular and legal support as both a valid a medicine for many physical and psychological ailments, and recreational substance for the general public.

The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), a non-profit research and educational organization that develops medical, legal, and cultural contexts for people to benefit from the careful uses of psychedelics and marijuana has recently issued an alert that the US Public Health Service (PHS) is blocking a study on the benefits of Cannabis as an effective and natural treatment for PTSD. Arguing for years that psychedelic medicines have profound and scientifically validated healing effects for psychological problems associated with combat, MAPS is calling on the public for support in their efforts to pursue further research in this area:

A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and University of Arizona Institutional Review Board (IRB)-approved protocol for a study of marijuana for symptoms of PTSD in U.S. veterans, sponsored by the non-profit Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), has been on hold for over 3½ months, as researchers wait for the PHS to respond to their request to purchase marijuana for the study.

MAPS goes on to clarify the matter further in a recent press release:

Thousands of veterans and other medical marijuana patients nationwide use marijuana to treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) is blocking researchers who are seeking to learn more about the risks and benefits of the treatment…

The study would explore the safety and effectiveness of smoked and/or vaporized marijuana for 50 U.S. veterans with chronic, treatment-resistant PTSD. Animal studies have already shown that marijuana helps quiet an overactive fear system, but no controlled clinical studies have taken place with PTSD patients.

MAPS notes that this study could provide doctors with more options for treating PTSD patients who’ve “been unresponsive to traditional therapies,” says Rick Doblin, Ph.D., Executive Director of MAPS.

The bulletin offers insight into the role the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is playing in the effort to prevent this research that aims to directly benefit our nation’s most affected ex-soldiers, while citing conflicting policies regarding the clinical research of Schedule I drugs, which includes Cannabis.

The PHS marijuana review process exists only because the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)-protected monopoly on the supply of marijuana legal for use in FDA-regulated research. This additional review is not required for research on any other Schedule I drug.

MAPS resubmitted a revised protocol on Oct. 24, 2013, after the original protocol was rejected by the PHS in September, 2011. Unfortunately, unlike the FDA, which must respond to submissions within 30 days of receiving them, the PHS has no such time limit. Meanwhile, the PHS is successfully preventing FDA and IRB-approved research from taking place.

“The stifling of medical research on marijuana stands in the way of our vets returning to a normal life,” says Dr. Sue Sisley, who would lead the study.

Other research into this area has already concluded that Cannabis is indeed a potent and effective medicine for reducing the negative long-term affects associated with combat stress:

Another fascinating discovery, one with implications for PTSD, is that the cannabinoid system is integrally related to memory, specifically to memory extinction. Memory extinction is the normal, healthy process of removing associations from stimuli. [Source]

Cannabis is available in some states for the treatment of PTSD; however, “many states still do not count PTSD as a disorder that warrants a medical marijuana card. Because of this, veterans are seeking other legal and non-legal ways to procure weed,” writes Thor Benson of Vice. Veterans should not, in any state, have to risk breaking the law in search for relief from a psychological condition incurred while directly serving the US government.

The fact that the government would prevent research of a natural medicine for the cure of PTSD speaks volumes about our government’s overall lack of interest in a genuine commitment to the mental health and wellness of our soldiers after returning from combat zones. Now that Cannabis legalization is should be made more widely available to doctors as a remedy for PTSD.

Whatever your opinion of the US government and US military, it is a sad reality that America’s troops are treated poorly by the federal government and have few options for prosperity after serving in the armed forces today. Additionally, observers of history would do well to note that it is dangerous for a free society to have so many disaffected ex-soldiers amongst the population, especially at a time when we have a growing police state here at home.

For more information on this issue, please contact: 

Brad Burge
MAPS Director of Communications
831-429-6362 x103

Adam Eidinger
Mintwood Strategies
(202) 744-2671


Alex Pietrowski is an artist and writer concerned with preserving good health and the basic freedom to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. He is a staff writer for, where this first appeared, and an avid student of Yoga and life.

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