MMJ Research Recommendations for Colorado Board of Health

Board of Health

Thanks to the surplus of medical marijuana license registration fees in Colorado, the state can now use funds to finance new medical studies on marijuana. Up first for consideration are studies to determine whether marijuana is a good treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and also, how efficient cannabidiol is in treating seizures in young people.

According to the website for the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, the state board of health will consider grant recommendations for the University of Colorado Denver Anschutz Medical Campus, the University of Pennsylvania and the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies.

The University of Pennsylvania and MAPS have both applied to study PTSD and the efficacy of marijuana as a treatment. The study is requesting about $2 million in grant money. The date for final approvals by the Colorado Board of Health is December 17, 2014. A date which Dr. Sue Sisley, formerly affiliated with the University of Arizona, looks to with anticipation for starting her triple-blind study.

Dr. Sisley, if given the $2 million as suggested by the CDPHE, will be able to work with 76 veteran volunteers who struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder after returning from U.S. military engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The statistics regarding PTSD are shocking. According to VICE, as many as 20 percent of the veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan may suffer from PTSD, and that on average 22 veterans commit suicide in the United States each day.

According to the VICE article, Dr. Sisley was first aghast that veterans were self-medicating with marijuana, but she took a more sympathetic eye in light of the side effects suffered by veterans who were on prescription medications to treat their PTSD. She said she saw the negative side effects of prescription medications among the veteran population, and her focus changed to other safer and more sustainable treatment methods.

The MAPS study has been approved to use marijuana provided by the federal government. If approved by the Colorado Board of Health, MAPS expects to receive marijuana from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to start the study in January 2015, with veterans at Johns Hopkins University, as well as a group of veterans Dr. Sisley has been working with in Arizona, according to The Cannabist.

According to a video featuring Dr. Sisley, one benefit of marijuana is it can help PTSD patients “decompress” at night when they normally suffer from flashbacks and nightmares, a major symptom of PTSD. Sisley also talks about the importance of allowing science, not politics, to determine the answers to questions about drugs.

Dr. Sisley has made a political issue of her PTSD study. Dr. Sisley was recently let go by the University of Arizona, although her account and the university’s account differ on why. The University of Arizona maintains Sisley was let go due to the nature of her volunteer position being eliminated by changes to the overall program. Sisley said she was fired and her study denied a home in Arizona thanks to a recall effort Sisley participated in against Arizona state Sen. Kimberly Yee.

Whatever the reason Sisley was removed from her position at the University of Arizona, the state of Arizona has approved medical marijuana as a palliative treatment for PTSD and the CDPHE still sees fit to include Dr. Sisley’s FDA-approved PTSD study among its recommendations on how the Colorado Board of Health should spend $7.5 million earmarked dollars.

The study of cannabidiol has been given the most money via recommendation. Studies being recommended by the CDPHE to the Colorado Board of Health cover everything from the effect of CBD on seizures, to the effect in treating inflammatory bowel disease in adolescents and young adults. Many families are moving to Colorado and other states offering medical marijuana to give their children access to strains such as “Charlotte’s Web” that are high in CBD content, but low in psychoactive THC.

Whatever the Board of Health decides based upon the recommendations, at least the United States is now taking steps towards finding answers for marijuana. No need to vilify marijuana any longer, at least not when medical truth is at stake. Openness for the scientific community benefits everybody.

Matt Berg is a writer from Northwest Denver. Matt writes on a range of topics including science, music, motorcycles, politics, sports and more. He is always looking for adventure and his next story to tell. Connect with Matt on Twitter: @tomjoad187.

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