TUCSON , Ariz. -- A University of Arizona professor believes she was fired for controversial research involving medical marijuana and its effects on combat veterans diagnosed with PTSD.
Dr. Sue Sisley calls her firing a political move.
Sisley is a psychiatrist and professor at the University of Arizona, where she also received her medical degree. She's spent the last four years working to receive federal approval on a research project that would study the effects of medical marijuana on war veterans diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder.
According to Sisley, this area of research is currently untouched and her study could yield potentially ground breaking data on the topic.
“This study held so much promise of being able to understand how we could help veterans. If [marijuana] had the potential to help we were going to be able to quantify that. And now it’s been cut off at the knees by this university,” Sisley said.
Her study received FDA approval in 2011 and just two months ago cleared a final legal hurdle. The research could have started this summer.
But when Sisley asked U of A for the final go-ahead, she instead received a letter terminating her association with the university. She asked for clarification but claims the university gave no concrete reason for her dismissal.
“I've looked at all my performance evaluations and this doesn't look like an issue of job performance. All of [my reviews] were satisfactory,” Sisley said.
Sisley believes university administrators bowed to political pressure against her controversial research topic.
“I was at the forefront of the most controversial research happening at the university and they didn't know how to withstand the political pressure from the legislature,” said Sisley, claiming that at least one state senator has been a behind the scenes critic of her work.
She also said in April she got a phone call from U of A Vice President Joe Garcia demanding that she detail all of her medical marijuana political activism or she would be out of a job.
The University of Arizona responded to 3TV's request for comment with the following statement from George Humphrey, assistant vice president of the Arizona Health Science Center:
“...UA has not received political pressure to terminate any employee. Also, in 2013, the UA championed state legislation to ensure that universities could perform medical marijuana research on campus.”
Sisley said she has already had calls from other universities and will consider moving her research elsewhere.