Valley doctor testing marijuana on veterans with PTSD

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An Arizona doctor is testing medical marijuana on veterans to help treat PTSD. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) An Arizona doctor is testing medical marijuana on veterans to help treat PTSD. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Dr. Sue Sisley is doing her research out of Scottsdale. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Dr. Sue Sisley is doing her research out of Scottsdale. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(3TV/CBS 5) -

A Valley doctor and researcher is currently conducting the first ever federally-approved study on the effects marijuana has on veterans suffering from PTSD.

The recently approved study could help shape the future for medical cannabis.

A lot has happened since we last spoke with Dr. Sue Sisley, back in April of 2016, right after the DEA greenlighted her triple blind clinical study to evaluate smoking cannabis to manage chronic, treatment-resistant PTSD in 76 veterans.

[READ MORE: DEA green lights trial of medical marijuana for PTSD in veterans]

"It's such an honor to be working with these veterans here," said Dr. Sisley, a psychiatrist and lead marijuana researcher.

Dr. Sisley and her staff have now moved into this "Scottsdale Research Center" and have just begun testing the effects of cannabis on qualified candidates.    

You might remember, back in 2014, Dr. Sisley's research was put in jeopardy when she was abruptly fired from the University of Arizona.

[READ MORE: Medical marijuana research stalls after Arizona professor is let go]

The university said it wasn't politically motivated, but she believes she was fired for her political activism in defense of her research.

"We don't have any agenda here. We're not pro-cannabis, we're just pro-research. We're trying to collect objective data on how patients are responding to this plan," said Dr. Sisley.

Dr. Sisley has been granted this rarely issued schedule one license, after six years of fighting for it.

It allows her to purchase cannabis as a researcher for this first of a kind study.

"Suddenly we're coming back to this school of thought that, you know, cannabis has a myriad of therapeutic benefits and veterans are like the tip of the spear here. They're the ones who are leading this campaign to help the public understand what this has done for them," said Dr. Sisley.

Like Marine combat veteran Roberto Pickering, who suffers from PTSD and is considered 100 percent disabled.

He, like many other vets we've talked with, credits cannabis with saving their lives.

"It got me off of alcohol. It got me off of 13 different pills. You know anything can be used irresponsibly. We're viewing this as a real medicine," said U.S. Marine combat veteran Roberto Pickering.

Dr. Sisley says she won't be able to know for sure until the results of her study are complete.

She says depending on how compelling the findings are, cannabis could one day become a prescribed treatment option for post-traumatic stress disorder.

"It's possible that the FDA could approve cannabis to be on the market with an FDA indication for PTSD," said Dr. Sisley.

The study is expected to take around two more years.

Dr. Sisley is looking for more veterans to participate in the study that's now backed by the University of Colorado and Pennsylvania, John Hopkins University and MAPS, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies.

If you'd like to participate in the study and are interested in seeing if you qualify, contact the Scottsdale Research Institute at Arizona@marijuanasites.org.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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