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Combat veterans with PTSD to get first-of-its-kind marijuana trial test

A local, Las Vegas veteran says she suffers from PTSD and that she's had success in choosing Marijuana over opiates. 5/2/2016 [Christy Wilcox/KSNV]

The Federal Drug Enforcement Administration has approved a first-of-its-type trial test using different strains of marijuana.

Veterans who have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and meet certain eligibility criteria will get to participate in the study.

Doctor Sue Sisley said the group involved in the triple blind clinical study will work with 76 veterans in both Phoenix and Baltimore clinics for twelve weeks. The Phoenix doctor has been pushing to research medical marijuana for seven years. She hopes the science and data collected will help the public better understand if marijuana can help people with PTSD.

"Science is no longer being shackled by politics, but it's also heartbreaking to think of the last seven years how many service men and woman have died from suicide," Sisley said.

Former Army veteran Cristina Alfonso-Zea, founder of Blissful Vets, says she suffers from PTSD. After four attempts at suicide and years of taking prescribed opiates, she found cannabis.

Alfonso-Zea spent three and a half years in the Army traveling to places like Iraq and Afghanistan. She said she felt the benefits of marijuana immediately.

"I was able to sleep without the night terror, instantly that day it was instant," Alfonso-Zea said.

Prior to the decision to allow testing, drug regulators said it would not approve this type of drug testing, but the DEA has now changed its mind saying it will allow for a placebo-controlled clinical trial. Veterans will be given four different types of cannabis among placebos to test how it affects their PTSD.

All of the cannabis in this Colorado-funded study is coming from the University of Mississippi, the only institution certified to do so by the federal government.

"We have veterans killing themselves every day in this country and we have no solutions for how to curb this epidemic," Sisley said.

Sisley, known for her advocacy, says she wants to provide a better understanding by using science and data while also finding a way to curb the ongoing problems associated with PTSD. The doctor hopes science and data can provide the public with a better understanding of marijuana's effects on PTSD -- no matter what the result.

"There are a subset of veterans that seem to respond to the plant, there are others that have bad experiences," Sisley said.


Connect with Christy Wilcox on Twitter @ChristyNews3LV and on Facebook!

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