After several difficult years and a lot of jumping through hoops, Arizona-based marijuana researcher Dr. Sue Sisley is finally moving forward with her federally approved PTSD pot study. That is—if she can circumnavigate the latest obstacle that has been thrown her way.
Sure, she’s secured approval from the Food and Drug Administration, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, but now Phoenix Veterans Affairs officials are blocking her way.
According to KTAR News, Sisley has been denied permission to give a lecture about the effects of marijuana on vets with PTSD to health care providers at the Phoenix VA. This would have provided an opportunity for medical staff to then refer veterans to her study.
“This is a study design that is getting underway this summer, and we need to screen hundreds and hundreds of military veterans in order to find the optimal 38 vets who will actually be enrolled in the study,” Sisley explained. “They have the golden opportunity to refer military veterans to a federally legal study.”
The Phoenix VA responded with a statement sent to KTAR News, citing federal law as the reason Sisley is not allowed to lecture.
“Since we are a federal agency, we follow federal law,” the statement said. “Federal law classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act, and as such, VA health care providers are prohibited from completing forms or offering recommendations or opinions on participating in a medical marijuana program.”
This, however, did not stop the Phoenix VA from allowing Sisley to lecture back in 2012—a point that officials brushed off as “administration changes.”
As a federally legal study (not to mention, the recent approval by U.S. senators to expand medical cannabis access to vets), Sisley believes that VA officials could legally grant her approval but are simply choosing not to do so.
“I think that it is really unconscionable that the VA is suppressing vital scientific information,” she said.