Researchers hope to break down Medical Marijuana research barriers to help vets with PTSD

5/24/2016 [George Romero/KSNV]

As a former Air Force veteran Peter Guidry helps vets suffering both physically and mentally at his non-profit forgotten not gone for veterans. He says using cannabis as a treatment option for his ailments helped him.

"Cannabis helps me not to feel the depression and allows me not to feel the social phobias," said Peter Guidry.

Peter wants vets to have better access and options for their health issues in the future like he has after he was prescribed medical marijuana.

"We fought to be able to heal ourselves as adults once we get don't with the military, we should have the decision of the way we want to heal," said Guidry.

Doctor Sue Sisley has been studying medical marijuana. She says it took her team of researchers seven years to get approval from the Drug Enforcement Administration to conduct research with veterans diagnosed with PTSD, but she says she found barriers to her research.

The DEA designates marijuana as a schedule one narcotic, but unlike other drugs in the same category, her team can only access specific cannabis through the University of Mississippi the only government approved growing facility.

"Whether it's MDMA, ecstasy, LSD or magic mushrooms, I can buy study drugs for any of those medicines through any lab in the country I don't just have to go through the DEA to purchase the study drug," said Dr. Sue Sisley.

Dr. Sisley says the strains researchers want to use are available at other marijuana growing facilities. These types of strains could provide better data for medical research, but she can't legally obtain them due to having to purchase study marijuana through their facility.

"They weren't able to grow the strains that we requested and they weren't able to grow them in a timely way," said Dr. Sue Sisley.

Senior fellow, John Hudak at the Brookings institute, says it could take the president to change policies that create these types of access barriers.

"Push the Department of Justice and Health and Human Services to reschedule marijuana. This would break down a lot of the bureaucratic barriers that exist," said John Hudak.

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