Pubdate: Thu, 20 Mar 2014
Source: Tucson Weekly (AZ)
Copyright: 2014 Tucson Weekly
Author: J.M. Smith


Let's Cross Our Collective Fingers That Sue Sisley's Research on
Marijuana and PTSD Gets the Remaining Approvals It Needs

More than three years ago, a researcher at University of Arizona asked
the federal government for permission to study the effectiveness of
cannabis in treating post-traumatic stress disorder .. and was denied.
Last week she cleared a major hurdle for the groundbreaking study.

Sue Sisley, M.D., wants to study smoked marijuana in treating veterans
who suffer from the ailment, which affects service members
disproportionately compared to the general population and which many
states include among qualifying illnesses for medical marijuana cards.
The study would be all official and scientifical and stuff, meeting
the strict standards of the Food and Drug Administration for clinical

Sisley originally filed a protocol with the FDA in 2010-the body that
is the final authority on medical trials in the U.S. The FDA initially
rejected Sisley's study, but later approved it on medical grounds,
after she adjusted some aspects of her protocol. After the FDA gave
its blessing for the study, an arm of the Drug Enforcement
Administration-the only agency who can provide legal cannabis for
research-rejected it.

Last week the Public Health Service gave its nod to the study, though
it still needs approval from the DEA, an approval that hinges mostly
on whether the UA can make appropriate measures to secure the cannabis
used for the study. That seems likely, since groundwork has already
been laid on a state level for such research. Arizona law was changed
last year to make just this type of research possible on college
campuses here.

Arizona lags behind numerous states on allowing treatment of PTSD with
cannabis. Last year, state Department of Health Services Director Will
Humble rejected PTSD as an addition to the state list after a petition
from state residents, despite a growing body of evidence that it can
be effective. The latest state-Michigan-added PTSD to its list of
qualifying illnesses just last week.

There is mounting evidence from around the globe that PTSD can treat
the anxiety and other symptoms from the PTSD, which is a delayed
reaction to stress that can hit victims months or even years after
trauma, such as that experienced in combat. There are studies from
Israel and Germany and huge piles of anecdotal evidence from the
United States. Many PTSD sufferers treat their symptoms with cannabis
after qualifying for other reasons, such as chronic pain.

It's sad that so many government officials across the nation-adding
PTSD in Michigan was not without opposition-are blocking important
work like Sisley wants to accomplish. The National Institute on Drug
Abuse, the arm of the DEA that is keeping the lid on cannabis for
research, has rejected numerous clinical trials. Let's hope this
one-which has reached a level of approval not yet attained by any
clinical cannabis trial-relents this time.

It's ironic that the first clinical trial in the nation could happen
in a state where PTSD is not an approved medical marijuana qualifying
illness. Maybe after Sisley's study, the esteemed Mr. Humble will see
the light and allow PTSD on our qualifying illness list, because he
cites a lack of clinical trials as a reason for rejecting it. Maybe if
we could add just one trial, he would see the value.

There are still hurdles to clear-NIDA and Will Humble chief among
them-before she can help our former service members. But it looks like
she is well on her way to helping Arizona veterans find relief.
Wouldn't that be awesome? Why yes, it would be awesome. Very awesome.

Cross your fingers.
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MAP posted-by: Matt