The federal government has given a green light to a University of Arizona researcher who plans to look at whether marijuana helps veterans with post-traumatic stress, The Los Angeles Times reports.
The feds’ approval is a major development, given that research into marijuana’s potential benefits has been stymied by the government’s prohibition of the drug. The Times reports that the move by the government may open the door to additional research into cannabis.
“This is a great day,” said the Arizona researcher, Suzanne A. Sisley, clinical assistant professor of psychology at the university’s medical school, who has been trying to get the green light for her study for three years. “The merits of a rigorous scientific trial have finally trumped politics.
“We never relented,” Sisley said. “But most other scientists have chosen not to even apply. The process is so onerous. With the implementation of this study and the data generated, this could lead to other crucial research projects.”
Backers of medical marijuana hailed the news as an indication that the government had started coming to terms with one of the more striking paradoxes of federal drug policy: Even as about 1 million Americans are using marijuana legally to treat ailments, scientists have had difficulty getting approval to study how the drug might be employed more effectively.
U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., told the Times that researchers face “impossible burdens” when it comes to marijuana.
From the Times:
“These are not people who are going to be involved with some clandestine production of the drug or do something nefarious. They are trying to do scientific research that will add to the body of knowledge and safety,” he said.
Blumenauer likes to recount the story of a doctor who works with children who have violent epileptic seizures. The children’s parents “have found that the use of marijuana has reduced the frequency and intensity of these horrific episodes. But because of our stupid research policies, it is easier for the parent to get medical marijuana than for a researcher,” he said.
In, Oregon, PTSD is a qualifying condition for medical marijuana. It was added to the program in 2013 after a push by advocates, who argued that veterans deserve access to medical marijuana.