More than 12,000 people have signed a petition by a former U.S. Marine that calls on multiple government agencies to stop blocking research concerning marijuana’s potential to help treat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Iraq war veteran Sergeant Ryan Begin is leading the campaign on Change.org following the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) decision to block a pilot study to examine the benefits of marijuana for veterans with treatment-resistant 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.
“I served two tours in Iraq and was hit by an improvised explosive device, losing my right elbow and then enduring over 30 surgeries,” said Begin. “Now that I’m home, I suffer from PTSD, and not only does the federal government consider me a criminal for using medical marijuana to treat my symptoms, they even refuse to allow researchers to see how marijuana might help our troops. It’s shameful.”
“I know there are many other veterans like me who would rather use marijuana than the plethora of dangerous and addictive pharmaceutical drugs that are being pushed on us,” continued Begin. “Really, I just think it’s foolish and cruel that our government is blocking research. It’s clearly a political game, but it’s our lives they’re playing with.”
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) — an agency 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.
Photo credit: Matthew Woitunski