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Marijuana Study is One Step Closer to being Approved

Update Date: Mar 18, 2014 02:45 PM EDT

After three years, a researcher from the University of Arizona has moved one step forward in getting her study, which will test the effects of medical marijuana on soldiers with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), started. This past Friday, Suzanne Sisley's study received approval from the Public Health Service, which is a part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

Sisley's study proposal was first approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2011. However, she could not legally get medicinal marijuana for the study. With this most recent approval, Sisley is one step away from starting the study. She still needs the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to approve the study.

"MAPS [Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) has been working for over 22 years to start marijuana drug development research, and this is the first time we've been granted permission to purchase marijuana from NIDA [National Institute of Drug Abuse]," MAPS said according to the Wall Street Journal. The group supports the use of marijuana and other drugs for medical research.

The study will recruit 50 veterans who suffer from moderate to severe PTSD symptoms. For 10 weeks, the veterans will receive medicinal marijuana that is grown from a farm at the University of Mississippi. This farm is the only federally sanctioned source of medicinal marijuana. The medicinal marijuana will be administered at five different levels of the active ingredient, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) ranging from zero to 12 percent. Participants will either smoke the marijuana or vaporize it.

According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, PTSD affects around 11 to 20 percent of the troops that had served in Iraq or Afghanistan. Overall, the National Institutes of Health reports that roughly 7.7 million Americans suffer from this condition.

Sisley stated, according to USA TODAY, "It's hopefully a great starting point to begin to uncover some innovative ways of treating PTSD."

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