Federal agency blocks FDA-approved marijuana research for veterans
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has blocked a pilot study to examine the benefits of marijuana for veterans with treatment-resistant post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The study was sponsored by the nonprofit research organization the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), and would have been conducted by Dr. Sue Sisley of the University of Arizona at Phoenix.
“Hundreds of veterans in medical marijuana states already report using marijuana to control their PTSD symptoms,” MAPS said in a statement. “The growing number of service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with combat-related trauma combined with large numbers of treatment-resistant veterans highlights the pressing need for research into additional treatments for PTSD.”
Recently, a study conducted by Haifa University in Israel found that rats which were treated with marijuana within 24 hours of a traumatic experience successfully avoided any symptoms of PTSD.
But no studies have been conducted on humans.
The Drug Enforcement Administration has denied researchers requests to obtain licenses to grow marijuana, claiming that the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — overseen by the HHS — can be the only one to supply marijuana for Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-regulated research.
NIDA’s monopoly on the supply of marijuana for research means the study has no way of moving forward, even though it was approved by the FDA.
MAPS is now fighting that monopoly in court.
The D.C.-based law firm Covington & Burling LLP, one of the foremost law firms representing the pharmaceutical industry, has offered pro-bono legal representation to the research group to appeal the DEA’s August 15 final order, which upheld NIDA’s monopoly on marijuana. MAPS estimated the law firm saved them $175,000 in legal costs.