MAPS, The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Substances, was awarded a $12,979,050 million grant from the state of Michigan to fund a study on PTSD and cannabis on August 10.
According to Dr. Sue Sisley, President of the Scottsdale Research Institute and longtime cannabis researcher, this new study is sorely needed in the community. “Suicide among veterans is an urgent public health crisis, but it’s solvable if we invest in researching new treatments for pain, depression, and PTSD,” said Sisley in a press statement. “This grant enables more rigorous study, overseen by the FDA, which may lead to cannabis flower becoming prescribable medicine someday. Veterans are demanding objective cannabis drug development research, and the state of Michigan is fulfilling our collective obligation to our beloved Veteran community.”
The grant comes from Michigan’s 2021 Veteran Marijuana Research Grant Program, and is funded by the state’s recreational cannabis taxes. With a goal of determining the “the efficacy of marijuana in treating the medical conditions of United States armed services veterans and preventing veteran suicide.”
MAPS Makes History
This will be the second clinical trial to give cannabis medicine or placebos to participating military veterans, and according to the Chief Science Officer of the MAPS Public Benefit Corporation, Berra Yazar-Klosinki, PhD, the first trial was a great success. “We overcame significant regulatory obstacles obstructing cannabis research to conduct the first clinical trial of inhaled cannabis for PTSD,” said Yazar-Klosinki.
“This grant funding provides the resources needed to leverage the results from the first trial, conduct a fully-powered clinical trial, and align the body of scientific evidence with cannabis that more closely mirrors what is available within state-regulated cannabis programs.” This trial will be the second of its kind to be conducted so far, and one that is an FDA- and DEA-regulated double-blind, placebo-controlled study.
The study will enlist 320 eligible veterans who have been diagnosed with either moderate or severe PTSD, and also includes those who suffer from major depressive disorder or substance abuse disorders. Four trial sites will be set up, two of which will be located in Michigan. Once participants pass a three-week enrollment period, they will be given five weeks for “self-administering inhaled, self-titrated doses of high-quality botanical cannabis.” This second trial will also use higher quality cannabis to better determine the effects of those who receive medicine versus a placebo.
The Founder and Director of MAPS, Rick Doblin, PhD, expresses the significance of this amount of money from cannabis taxes being used for research efforts. “Michiganders are granting non-profit researchers the opportunity to establish whether marijuana is helpful for Veterans with PTSD. If so, we will seek to return that generosity by developing a public-benefit cannabis pharmaceutical product that would be eligible for insurance coverage, just like any other pharmaceutical drug.”
The first trial was funded by MAPS Public Benefit Corporation (a MAPS subsidiary) which was also responsible for the only FDA-regulated controlled study for PTSD. The study was funded with $2.2 million from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and was led by the Scottsdale Research Institute. Results of this study showed evidence of the pros and cons to cannabis as a treatment for PTSD patients. According to the MAPS press release, all participating patients showed improvements in their symptoms after three weeks.
PTSD affects a large number of military veterans. According to data from the Veterans Association (VA), about 11-20 percent of veterans who served in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom suffer from PTSD. Twelve percent of veterans who participated in the Gulf War are diagnosed with PTSD every year. Finally, 15 percent of veterans who served in the Vietnam war are sufferers of PTSD (but the VA also estimates that 30 percent of all Vietnam veterans will be diagnosed with PTSD in their lifetimes).