NIDA Provides Marijuana for PTSD Treatment Study for Veterans

By John Lavitt 04/24/15

For the first time, vets suffering from PTSD will be allowed to smoke marijuana as part of a government-backed study.


The recent decision by the National Institute on Drug Abuse to expand the national marijuana cultivation program has opened the door for new treatment studies to get underway. One of the most significant studies that has been on hold is designed to help military veterans combat the symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome. NIDA will supply the researchers with new strains of federally-grown cannabis. The goal of the new NIDA growth program is to keep pace with the diversity of cannabis options being offered by the medical marijuana industry.

Brad Burge, spokesman for the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, explained that the research project is, "the first whole-plant marijuana study," meaning the marijuana will not be given in a manufactured delivery system like a pill or a drink. The PTSD study will allow the veterans to utilize the marijuana as a medicine by smoking it. It has been a year since the federal government approved the study, but it has been on hold, awaiting approval by NIDA to gain access to the drug supply needed.

A challenge facing the study is that NIDA so far has only produced three of the four kinds of marijuana needed for the research, including a "placebo" strain. Burge illuminated the difficulties still being faced. “We have approval to purchase it from NIDA, but they won't give us a time estimate on when they'll be able to deliver it," he said.

Seventy-six veterans will take part in the study that will measure the effects of different potencies of smoked marijuana in treating their PTSD symptoms. The Veterans Affairs Department estimates that between 11% and 20% of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans respectively suffer from PTSD. Given the military-induced severity of post-traumatic stress disorder, it is hoped the marijuana will provide relief to thousands of veterans that fought so bravely for their country.

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Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.