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The Clinic: Researcher Fired for Studying Marijuana and PTSD

While the past two years have seen the legalization of marijuana for all adults in two states, the expansion of medical marijuana laws nationwide, and even a federal government program designed to help supply cannabis derived medicine to severely epileptic children, that doesn’t mean the Drug Warriors in our government (and their allies in the Pharmaceutical industry) have given up their fight to keep scientists from studying this plant. After all, once the true, incredible medical potential of cannabis has been proven to the satisfaction of the FDA, people just might start replacing their dangerous, often ineffective pills with a safer, often far more effective all-natural herbal alternative.

That’s why medical marijuana activists were so excited back in March, when the National Institute on Drug Abuse announced approval of Dr. Sue Sisley’s plan to research medical marijuana as a treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in combat soldiers. Most significantly, NIDA authorized Sisley to supply her study with cannabis grown at a federal government operated facility at the University of Mississippi. Since all FDA-approved marijuana studies must use marijuana from this lone, monopolistic supply source, and NIDA routinely refuses to supply FDA-approved studies into the plant’s potential benefits (but not harms), the move appeared to be a breakthrough in the federal government’s war on cannabis science.

Only one thing. Dr. Sue Sisley just got fired from her job as a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Arizona, and she says it’s because of her advocacy for cannabis research.

“This is a clear political retaliation for the advocacy and education I have been providing the public and lawmakers,” Sisley told the Los Angeles Times. “I pulled all my evaluations and this is not about my job performance.”

In fact, the Times‘ report paints a pretty clear picture of political payback at work:

Sisley’s study was designed to involve veterans who would use marijuana in an observation facility on campus. She had lobbied state lawmakers for approval to use state funds collected at medical marijuana dispensaries to help pay for the work. When a powerful Republican senator maneuvered to block that money, some of Sisley’s allies launched an unsuccessful recall effort.

Whether she was fired for threatening the Feds’ war on weed, Big Pharma’s bottom line or the job security of Republican lawmakers in Arizona, Sisley and her study now face an uncertain future. She’s technically free to pursue the study at another university, but isn’t optimistic about the chances.

“Any university president is going to worry about taking me on,” she said. “Especially at a public university, where you have to rely on the good graces of the Legislature. These lawmakers hate me. This is just going to delay everything for a year or two, another awful delay for this study.”

And for the soldiers, the government sent to war and then supplied with endless addictive, potentially lethal pharmaceutical drugs, but won’t let smoke weed. Because it’s just too damn dangerous.

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