Top Army Doctor Wary of Using Marijuana to Treat PTSD in Veterans
Oct 13, 2016
Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) October 13, 2016 – The Army Surgeon General expressed doubts about endorsing the first ever government-approved clinical trials for marijuana as treatment for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“Marijuana has long been considered a controversial treatment,” commented Jim Fausone, a Michigan veterans attorney. “However, it could potentially be beneficial in treating serious cases of PTSD and other conditions among veterans. Increased research into medical marijuana can lead to more understanding about its effects and open up a new realm of possibilities for treatment.”
During a meeting with reporters, Lieutenant General Nadya West pointed out that marijuana can have a negative impact on health. For example, it can cause long-term brain damage, especially in developing youth. She called marijuana “more dangerous” than tobacco due to the carcinogens present.
However, West endorsed the research despite her misgivings. She said, “We should always, at least, have an open mind to look at things in an evidence-based way for something that could be useful for our soldiers.”
West said she would examine the findings of the federally approved medical marijuana trials, “so long as it’s evidence-based.” The surgeon general said some particular chemicals present in marijuana might help treat PTSD. The military’s current treatments for the condition have been around 80 percent effective in relieving symptoms, she said.
In April, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) authorized a three-year study that will attempt to learn whether marijuana itself — and not just the chemical components extracted from it — can help treat PTSD. Combat veteran volunteers are being recruited for trials at Scottsdale Research Institute in Phoenix and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
Many veterans claim smoking marijuana has eased their PTSD symptoms such as anxiety and insomnia. However, like the Army, the Department of Veterans Affairs has doubts about its effectiveness. West said medical marijuana advocates often fail to acknowledge its dangers when touting benefits.
The surgeon general noted that the Army still considers marijuana illegal despite growing public support for its decriminalization. If service members try to self-medicate and test positive for marijuana, they can be disciplined and subject to a “wide range of actions,” she said
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