The Associated Press reports that the Food and Drug Administration had approved the proposal long ago, but the entire project was stalled because the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) had not approved the purchase of the medical marijuana needed for the study.
But last week, HHS sent a letter to by the studies' chief financial backer, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), and cleared the purchase of the medical marijuana from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) research farm in Mississippi, which is the only federally-sanctioned source of marijuana in the entire country.
According to MAPS, this is the first time the federal government has ever granted approved for medical research that involves smoked or vaporized marijuana.
If you don't like the way the world is, you change it. You have an obligation to change it. You just do it one step at a time.
Marian Wright Edelman
Founder of the Children's Defense Fund
The American Medical Association has long called on the government to change marijuana's classification to make it easier for scientist to conduct research. But marijuana remains a Schedule I substance under the federal government's Controlled Substance Act.
Previously, NIDA has focused all of its research on the risks of drug abuse, and had discouraged researchers who were interested in studying the potential benefits of medical marijuana.
There is still one more hurdle to clear before the study can begin. University of Arizona Professor Suzanne Sisley and MAPS must still get approval from the Drug Enforcement Administration. DEA However, DEA approval is expected to come more quickly now that the FDA and the HHS have both approved the study.
Statistics published by the VA’s National Center for PTSD indicate that an alarming number of veterans have PTSD. According to the VA, 11-20% of Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, 10% of Gulf War Veterans, and 30% of Vietnam Veterans have PTSD.
Because people with PTSD suffer from anxiety attacks, flashbacks, and depression, physicians have long speculated that medical marijuana use would help to calm the parts of the brain affected by PTSD.
Scientists are now one step closer to finding out.