After 7 years of conception to realization, the MAPS-sponsored, placebo-controlled, triple-blind, randomized crossover pilot study of the safety and efficacy of five different potencies of smoked or vaporized whole-plant marijuana in 76 veterans with chronic, treatment-resistant posttraumatic stress disorder was given the green light this past April, 2016. Quite a mouthful…. This study is the brainchild of Phoenix based doctor, Dr. Sue Sisley and Dr. Ryan Vandrey, cannabis expert and associate professor at John Hopkins School of Medicine.
So, what exactly does this mean in simple terms? For starters, MAPS, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), founded in 1986, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit research and educational organization that develops medical, legal, and cultural contexts for people to benefit from the careful uses of psychedelics and marijuana.
A triple-blind study takes the double-blind study to the next level in that the researchers do not know who the participants are. The participants are US veterans, 18 or older with a PTSD diagnosis, who have not improved after trying either medication or psychotherapy.
After years of delay, in December, 2014, Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment awards $2.156Million grant to MAPS.
In April, 2015, NIDA informs MAPS that the following 3 of the 4 strains are available;
2. 12% THC < 1% CBD
3. 12% CBD < 1% THC
For the 4th strain, NIDA could provide 9%THC/9%CBD which was close to the requested 12%THC/12%CBD or wait for another grow cycle. The 9% strain was accepted by Phase 2 study, but not Phase 3 which is to be conducted with the ready for market drug.
Results will provide information on marijuana dosing, composition, side effects and benefits to clinicians and legislators considering marijuana as a PTSD treatment option.
Half the subjects will be treated by Dr. Sisley, in Phoenix, while the other half will be treated by Dr. Vandrey at John Hopkins University in Baltimore. Blood analysis will be conducted at U of Colorado, Boulder, and Dr. Paula Riggs of U of Colorado School of Medicine, will oversee the overall scientific integrity of the study.
The ultimate goal is to compare the data from this study to that of veterans in medical marijuana states who are currently using marijuana.
Sadly, just last week, despite the necessary votes in Congress to allow military veterans to receive medical cannabis recommendations through the VA, Congressional leaders made a surprise decision by blocking this change from becoming law. Veterans seeking medical cannabis use will have to continue to seek recommendations from doctors outside the VA. This is a slap in the face for all the veterans who put their lives on the line and simply want access to a safe medicine that effectively treats their PTSD.