By Matt Saintsing
Can marijuana be used as an effective treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder?
Dr. Sue Sisley of the Scottsdale Research Institute wants to find out, but current law and Scheduling of marijuana, blocks her efforts. As such, she does not have access to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs records, or patients—which would be invaluable for her research.
Currently, veterans are free to use marijuana for medical use if they live in one of the 28 states, along with the District of Columbia, which have medical marijuana laws on the books.
Veterans that use medical marijuana can receive health benefits at the VA, however, VA physicians cannot prescribe medical marijuana, VA pharmacies cannot fill medical marijuana prescriptions, and the VA will not pay for medical marijuana prescriptions from any source.
Additionally, they are not permitted to promote, or discuss the use of medical marijuana with patients.
Marijuana shares its current schedule with the highly addictive heroin, and the hallucinogen lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). If moved to Schedule III, it would be classified on the same level of substances like anabolic steroids or Tylenol with codeine.
The current classification of marijuana as a Schedule I drug limits what she, and others can do, but there is an effort to change that.
In April, Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) introduced HR. 2020, a bill that would change current law by reclassifying marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule III substance. This change would drastically improve the ability to conduct research on marijuana as the major difference between a Schedule I drug and a Schedule II or III is whether or not the drug is viewed as having a valid medical use.
Gatez hopes this bill to spark a national discussion around cannabis reform.
“I would challenge anyone who has an anti-cannabis agenda to step up to the plate. Bring your best research to the table, let us bring our best research and let’s have an adult discussion about the issue, like the American people deserve”, said Gaetz.
Still, he recognizes this is an uphill and generational battle for him to fight.
“It’s a generational problem. They [Republicans], too frequently, have reflexive opposition to any meaningful reform”, said Gaetz. “I would challenge them to point to any evidence beyond their own dogmatic reflective reactions”.
VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin has it made clear that the VA is interested in pursuing any medical treatments for PTSD—including medical marijuana.
“There may be some evidence that this is beginning to be helpful and we’re interested in looking at that”, Shulkin said of medical marijuana while speaking to reporters at the White House in May.“We are acutely aware of the work that’s going on around the country, particularly in states that have legalized medical marijuana,” said Shulkin.