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Marijuana-For-PTSD Researcher Up For $2M Grant

Russ Belville

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Dr. Sue Sisley, the University of Arizona researcher who was fired under political pressure, has been recommended for a $2 million grant by the Colorado State Medical Marijuana Scientific Advisory Council. Dr. Sisley is attempting to conduct the nation’s only federally-approved research study on the efficacy of medical marijuana in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Since leaving the University of Arizona, Dr. Sisley has been unable to secure a position at either Northern Arizona University or Arizona State University, two campuses with the quality laboratory space she’d need for the study. But the Colorado grant does not require her to conduct her research at a university and she has already acquired lab space from a private donor.

The Colorado legislature set aside $10 million for marijuana research and Dr. Sisley’s recommendation will be evaluated by December 17th.  Her study will be comprised of 76 veterans split between her private lab in Arizona and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. There would still need to be approval of the study at Johns Hopkins and in Arizona. A doctor with the Veterans Administration would oversee both locations.

Dr. Sisley was insistent that despite having no tenure at an Arizona university, she would conduct her study with her Arizona patients. Dr. Sisley had been treating veterans with PTSD for years and like all of us, was shocked at the statistics of depression and suicide among our vets. It is estimated that one in five troops returning from the Middle East suffer from PTSD. That can be a major factor in veteran suicides, which are now occurring at the rate of 22 per day on average.

Dr. Sisley was initially resistant to the idea of cannabis as medicine, but year after year, she kept hearing from her veteran patients that they were using marijuana to cope with PTSD. With her curiosity piqued, she began securing the guidance from the National Institute on Drug Abuse on how to legally study marijuana use for PTSD.  And while she’s gotten their approval to study marijuana, she has yet to get the final thing she needs for the study… marijuana.

While Arizona is a medical marijuana state and its growers could produce for Dr. Sisley a crop of whatever marijuana strains she’d need, Dr. Sisley must wait for federally-legal marijuana grown at the University of Mississippi’s pot farm, the same schwag they bulk harvest, freeze dry, roll up, and send to Irv Rosenfeld and Elvy Musikka, the two remaining federal medical marijuana patients.

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