Veterans came from all over the country to honor their fallen comrades. Many also publicly advocated for a cause they believe will help them and their families: medical marijuana to treat chronic pain, depression and post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD).
No one knows better than veterans how severely PTSD is affecting their lives.
Dr. Sue Sisley, renowned cannabis researcher, says that 1 in 5 veterans suffer from PTSD. Dr. Sisley is currently undertaking the first and only federally approved study on medical cannabis and veterans with PTSD.
“At this point, we've got millions of veterans around the U.S. who are actively using cannabis to manage a variety of ailments and we don't have enough data to guide them on how to do that safely, said Sisley, whose study is in its second phase and on track to finish trials in March 2019 when they will begin analyzing data.
The study, part of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), has FDA approval but no help from the Veterans Administration (VA).
“We could have finished this study probably a year ago if we had the cooperation of the Phoenix VA,” said Sisley, who is based in Scottsdale Arizona. She noted that without VA cooperation it takes longer to find qualified participants.
Currently, the study has 61 veterans enrolled and are looking for 19 more to begin by October.
Meanwhile, in early May, the VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act unanimously advanced through a House committee and now heads to the full House floor.
The measure clarifies that the VA can legally conduct marijuana research. Up to now the VA has argued that participating in research would have been illegal.
Sisley said the Medicinal Cannabis Research Act is a step towards fostering more research like hers, but worries the bill’s language gives the VA too much latitude.
“Really what it should say is not that the VA [may] participate [in research], but that the VA must participate.”
According to various advocacy groups, 22 veterans commit suicide per day.
AVA report last year noted that risk of suicide among veterans is 22% higher than among non-veterans.