By Aaron Kesel
An Arizona study on medical marijuana and its benefits for veterans to combat PTSD is in danger of collapsing because researchers can’t find enough participants for the research, Military Times reported.
The first of its kind study funded by a $2.156 million grant from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) awarded to MAPS to sponsor the research, seeks to determine whether marijuana can help manage veterans’ PTSD.
The research has received wide-scale backing from the American Legion and other veterans organizations.
The study is being conducted in Arizona and Maryland and is overseen by Dr. Marcel Bonn-Miller, Ph.D., of the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine and Dr. Sue Sisley, a leading researcher on using marijuana to treat PTSD, in Phoenix, AZ. The other half of the subjects will be treated by Dr. Ryan Vandrey at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD.
Last year, the DEA approved the joint study on marijuana for veterans with PTSD giving formal approval to a controlled clinical trial to study the effectiveness of cannabis and cannabinoid use in patients.
The study then stalled after Dr. Sisley was fired allegedly for her views on medical marijuana, Medical Jane reported.
Sisley is being blamed for the study’s failing for not focusing enough on the study and putting more of her attention on the media, claims VA Press Secretary Curt Cashour.
“If the researcher is truly interested in finding veterans for her study, she should spend more time recruiting candidates and less time writing letters to the media,” Cashour said.
She denies the allegation that it’s her fault citing lack of VA cooperation and criticism from local and federal VA officials Sisley blames them for “not offering more assistance.”
At a White House press briefing in May, Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin was asked about easing rules for medical research on cannabis to help broaden treatment options for veterans.
“Right now, federal law does not prevent us at VA to look at that as an option for veterans,” he said.
I believe that everything that could help veterans should be debated by Congress and by medical experts.
If there is compelling evidence that this is helpful, I hope the people take a look at that and come up with the right decision, and then we will implement that.
Cashour has stated that Federal law restricts the VA’s ability to conduct the research or to refer potential candidates.
“Federal law restricts VA’s ability to conduct research involving medical marijuana, or to refer veterans to such research projects,” VA Press Secretary Curt Cashour said. “The researcher is free to work with veterans service organizations and state veterans officials who may not face such restrictions to identify candidates for her study.”
On the side of the DOJ, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has raised the bar on going after drug offenders ordering harsher sentencing and to go after states that legalized marijuana, claiming it causes “violence” despite the fact that the war on drugs has been a complete and total failure. Even Congress is against Sessions’ crusade against medical marijuana, allocating a total of 0$ for his plan to go after non-violent criminals and passing the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment in May which “allows states to carry on with crafting their own medical marijuana policies without fear of federal intervention.”
However, in July the House Committee GOP stopped the “Veterans Equal Access” amendment from moving to debate on the House floor by keeping the measure out of the VA funding bill for next year which would have allowed doctors to recommend medical marijuana as a substitute to big pharma’s opioids where the drug is legal for veterans, so there is poignant opposition as well.
If new participants for the research can’t be found by Oct. 1st, Sisley has said, they may have to shut down the work or expand the study to include non-veterans, which will alter the results she was hoping to collect to determine if marijuana is helpful to veterans suffering from PTSD.
“It was a seven-year saga with federal regulations just to get the study to this point,” she said. “I don’t want to see that lost.”
Maybe there would be more participants if veterans like Kristoffer Lewandowski weren’t being locked up for felony marijuana cultivation, which in Oklahoma carries an outrageous maximum sentence of life in prison for growing a plant.
But really it’s all about the profits and protecting big pharmaceutical companies as former “chief propagandist” for the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Belita Nelson has admitted: “Marijuana is safe, we know it is safe. It’s our cash cow and we will never give up.”
Could the VA be in bed with Big Pharma? Is that really why they oppose the research?