A recent article, published in Forbes has shed some light on the FDA and its position on marijuana. According to experts, the administration is open to further research and study of the plant and its medicinal uses when it comes to treating veterans. There is an abundance of research available, showing the plant’s ability to effectively treat many conditions suffered by veterans, including chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder. Nonetheless, the VA and its doctors and hospitals are not at liberty to review the plant as a possible form of treatment due to federal law.
Schedule I Classification
Marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I drug which places it alongside heroin as the highest risk drug. The category is for substances that are considered to be highly addictive, unsafe for human testing, and contain no medicinal properties. As a result, research on the plant has been banned. Last August, the DEA lifted the ban for scientists willing to go through the rigorous application process. However, the Department of Justice has not approved any applications and government approved medical research of the plant remains blocked.
Why Veterans May Urgently Need Cannabis
Dr. Sue Sisley has been trying to assemble a study to research the medicinal effects of the plant on 76 veterans who suffer from treatment resistant PTSD. However, she has experienced great difficulty moving forward with the project. 22 veterans are reported to commit suicide every day, although Sisley suspects this number may be higher. “As a scientist, I’m skeptical of subjective claims,” said Sisley. “[But] we have a mountain of anecdotal reports from veterans claiming that cannabis is lifesaving.” More than this, families of veterans suffering from the condition have reported that after treatment with cannabis, they have their family member back. Her research could help countless veterans, yet the Secretary of Veterans Affairs will not support forward movement on this.
“An Atmosphere of Fear”
“I’m assuming that [Attorney General] Sessions has created an atmosphere of fear around the word ‘cannabis’ and so nobody’s willing to step out,” said Sisley. “The FDA deserves major commendation because they, at least, are responsive.” Sessions is a long time prohibitionist who has been very vocal about his dislike of marijuana. He has even gone so far as to write Congress, requesting permission to use federal funds to crack down on medical marijuana across the country. Medical marijuana is legal in 29 states and Washington D.C. to treat patients suffering from cancer, AIDS, epilepsy, seizures, Alzheimer’s, chronic pain and more. Many children who would otherwise be debilitated by seizures are able to live normal lives thanks to the use of medical marijuana.
The FDA has been supportive of medical marijuana research, however they are blocked on being able to take any action to implement it. “We’ve had good experiences working with the FDA,” said Brad Burge, communications director at the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. “We have a long relationship with the FDA–a lot through our MDMA research. They’ve been open to approving research protocols into Schedule I drugs. It’s other regulatory agencies that have been standing in the way.”