Maryland: Dr. Sue Sisley Lectures At Walter Reed National Hospital On PTSD, Cannabis
Dr. Sue Sisley on Tuesday will lead a clinical lecture on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and cannabis as part of the 5th Annual Pain Care Skills Training at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
Research has indicated that cannabis has tremendous therapeutic potential to treat PTSD and pain-related symptoms of many medical conditions. The Pain Care Skills Training is a four-day event that includes hands-on trainings, lectures and roundtable discussions on best-practice models of treatment, and evolving solutions to meet the needs of pain care within the military, hosted by the National Capital Region Pain Initiative.
"The military has historically been a leader in adopting new medical practices far ahead of the larger medical community," said Dr. Sisley. "It's an honor to be able to help educate these highly dedicated medical professionals about medical cannabis and PTSD."
Earlier this year, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed the Veterans Equal Access Amendment by a margin of 18-12, which would allow Veterans Administration (VA) doctors to recommend medical cannabis if they are in a state that has a medical cannabis program. Under current policy, veterans who receive treatment from a physician outside of the VA are able to access medical cannabis if they live in state with a medical cannabis program.
However, veterans who are solely dependent on the VA for their health care are denied equal access to state medical marijuana programs because their VA physicians cannot recommend cannabis. The Veterans Equal Access Amendment would forbid the VA from using any funds to punish physicians who write recommendations or discuss benefits of medical cannabis therapy with their patients.
“America’s soldiers and veterans suffer tremendously from both PTSD and a variety of pain-related illnesses,” said Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access (ASA). “Cannabis is an extremely beneficial and potentially life-saving option. It’s extremely positive to see the military beginning to educate their medical professionals on cannabis and bringing in top experts like Dr. Sisley.”
Dr. Sisley is a lead investigator in a major research study on PTSD and cannabis. After several years of delays caused by federal policy, the study was approved on March 12th, 2014 by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Later that year, the state of Colorado awarded a $2 million grant for the study. Despite official approval and funding, the study has not yet begun because the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) has been unable to produce the required strains of cannabis necessary. NIDA is currently the only licensed grower of research cannabis. The DEA has refused to issue additional licenses to grow cannabis to facilitate greater research.
Photo of Dr. Sue Sisley: Matt York/Associated Press