Arizona researcher hopes changes at VA could help study recruitment efforts

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Changes are coming to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and one Arizona researcher hopes that will be in her favor. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Changes are coming to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and one Arizona researcher hopes that will be in her favor. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
She is studying the effects of marijuana on veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, but the VA currently won't refer patients to her. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) She is studying the effects of marijuana on veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, but the VA currently won't refer patients to her. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The Phoenix VA has told us that federal law restricts their ability to refer Veterans to this type of research. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The Phoenix VA has told us that federal law restricts their ability to refer Veterans to this type of research. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Changes are coming to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and one Arizona researcher hopes that will be in her favor.  

She is studying the effects of marijuana on veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, but the VA currently won't refer patients to her.

[RELATED: Despite federal approval, AZ researcher faces roadblocks with cannabis study]

Vietnam veteran Lorenzo Sullivan enjoys the quiet.

"I must say I prefer the company of my cat," Sullivan said.

However, he said the effectiveness of cannabis in treating his PTSD is loud and clear.

"I don't want to have something that makes me feel better or worse, or higher or lower," Sullivan said. "I just want to be what I consider to be normal."

"Does cannabis reduce the symptoms of PTSD, " said Dr. Sue Sisley with the Scottsdale Research Institute. "The question is, if it does, which varieties or which varieties phenotypes of cannabis are best."

She said they're making progress in their study. They even have a website to recruit more people.

[RELATED: Valley doctor testing marijuana on veterans with PTSD]

"After seven years of struggle with the government, stonewalling at every turn, this week we enrolled our 51st veteran in the study," Dr. Sisley said.

She said they need 25 more participants by next April. Dr. Sisley says they aren't getting help from the VA. She is optimistic, however, now that VA Secretary David Shulkin is out and Admiral Ronny Jackson could be in.

"Let's make sure science is not being handcuffed by politics," she said.

The Phoenix VA has told us that federal law restricts their ability to refer Veterans to this type of research.

We asked the national office if their position could change. Their answer was a flat "No."

Sullivan is not enrolled in Dr. Sisley's study but said he's eager to see the results. 

"I don't want another veteran to have to go through what I went through, both time and money, in order to come to this position," Sullivan said.

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