PTSD: Can It Be Treated with Marijuana?

The legalization of marijuana is stimulating the long needed and much delayed research into its medicinal effectiveness.  Marijuana is being considered as a treatment for pain relief, depression, and stress. Now the government has approved a study researching the efficacy of marijuana in helping veterans from recent wars overcome post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The Department of Health and Human Services surprised advocates in a move indicating a major policy change after decades of struggle to obtain federal approval for medicinal research for marijuana. This study had previous approval, but could only receive the drug from one farm through the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), from which the drug was generally unavailable. Last week, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) received a letter clearing the purchase for study of medicinal use in treating PTSD.

“MAPS has been working for over 22 years to start marijuana drug development research.

This is the first time the government has given approval and allowed medical marijuana to be smoked or vaporized for any research purposes looking at the potential benefits, instead of the risks of addiction and abuse.

The Veterans Administration estimates between 11 and 20 per cent of soldiers who served in the recent Iraq and Afghanistan wars have PTSD, which can cause anxiety, flashbacks, depression and sleep deprivation. About 7.7 million American adults are estimated to have the disorder.

University of Arizona Professor Suzanne Sisley plans to study 50 veterans using smoked or vaporized marijuana, using five different potencies.  Physicians have suspected the drug could be used for helping the symptoms of anxiety and overstimulation associated with PTSD, but could not research the possibilities until now.

There is great hope in finding new treatments to help in the long-term success of dealing with many mental and physical problems. Researchers hope that marijuana may provide a stepping-stone to the path leading to recovery of PTSD for the many stricken veterans who need and deserve help for their condition.

Here at Cliffside, we are interested in what the results of this research may be. In the years that veterans have been returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, some have turned to marijuana for help with their feelings. Frequently this has turned into marijuana abuse or addiction. Does marijuana actually treatand resolve PTSD or is it simply a mechanism to cover the underlying issues? While it may help short term, are there better treatments that in conjunction with marijuana treatment or on their own might help resolve PTSD more completely? These are questions we hope to see looked at in this and other marijuana studies.

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