A new federally funded study: Cannabis and its effect on veterans with PTSD

Memorial Day Vet

Memorial Day Vet

I hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. This post is for the hundreds of thousands of American veterans who put their lives on the line in foreign countries and came back home with PTSD. Relief may finally be on the way. The US Senate Committee on Appropriations just recently voted to add the Veterans Equal Access (VEAA) to the 2016 budget for the Veterans Administration (VA). This would enable VA docs to discuss and/or recommend medical marijuana use for vets in states where it is legal. However, it still needs to be approved in the House of Representatives where a similar measure lost by 3 votes last year. If you support our brave men and women in uniform and their right to have access to medical marijuana, get off your butts and email or phone your rep, urging him/her to vote affirmative on this amendment.


There are some very differing opinions on whether cannabis can treat PTSD in veterans. The naysayers believe it can do more harm than good by simply masking the symptoms while causing chronic bronchitis, impairment in short-term memory and motor coordination, ability to perform complex psychomotor tasks, psychosis, increased sexual risk-taking, addiction, and a bunch of other stuff.

The yaysayers believe the following:
1. It may relieve symptoms of PTSD, which include irritability, overwhelming guilt or shame, self-destructive behavior, trouble concentrating, trouble sleeping, being easily startled or frightened, and suicidal tendencies.

2. More importantly, it may remove the disturbing memories themselves which causes the sufferer to keep reliving the traumatic events over and over again while awake and during sleep. If the memory of the events disappears then all the emotional and physical reactions to them and to reminders of the traumatic event would also disappear including flashbacks and disturbing dreams.

Here's how it works...you got your cannabinoids, one of the compounds secreted by cannabis flowers. Cannabinoids mimic the compounds our bodies naturally produce, endocannabinoids, which help control internal stability and health. When there is a deficiency or a problem with our endocannabinoid system, unpleasant symptoms and physical complications happen. Different cannabinoids have different effects depending on which receptors they bind to.

Cannabis -> Cannabinoids -> Receptors Sites CB-1 (brain) and CB-2 (body)

Those with PTSD have an endocannabinoid deficiency where their bodies stop producing enough of it to fill receptor sites. Cannabis replenishes endocannabinoids which may very well deactivate their disturbing memories, allowing sufferers to forget them.

A new federally funded study has just been approved, although it may need to be reapproved which apparently won't be a problem, which will determine if this is the case. There are so many government agencies involved in this study. We've got the Department of Health and Human Services, the Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Agency which cleared the way for the research. The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) is supplying the actual marijuana for this study which is being supervised by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). Who even knew that existed? Don't get me wrong..I am thrilled this is happening.

They will be using the entire marijuana plant and it will be ingested by smoking rather than by using a cannabis oil extract, given in pill form. 76 veterans will participate in the study using different potencies, including a "placebo strain" which will measure the effects of different potencies of smoked marijuana in treating their symptoms. Say tuned to this space for an update when it is available.

Are you in favor of the right of veterans to have access to medical marijuana? Do you know any vets who have tried it? If so, what was the outcome?

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