Why Is the DEA Okaying a Study of Pot to Treat PTSD?

Cannabis therapy could be good news for vets and others.

Any of America's former soldiers out there experiencing agitation, irritability, hostility, hypervigilance, self-destructive behavior, or social isolation, flashback, fear, severe anxiety, or mistrust, guilt, loneliness, insomnia or nightmares, emotional detachment or unwanted thoughts, or inability to feel pleasure, in short, every U.S. vet currently grappling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) should know there may be a glimpse of hope that these symptoms can be treated or ameliorated with medical cannabis protocols one day in the distant future on a far, faraway horizon.

According to an April 21 press release from the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has granted formal permission for MAPS to research usage of whole-plant marijuana to treat PTSD in U.S. veterans.

According to the MAPS press release:

The DEA’s approval marks the first time a clinical trial intended to develop smoked botanical marijuana into a legal prescription drug has received full approval from U.S. regulatory agencies.

MAPS self-describes as a "non-profit research and educational organization developing medical, legal, and cultural contexts for people to benefit from the careful uses of psychedelics and marijuana."

Like too many Americans, U.S. veterans have a high incidence of opioid addiction. This dependence is believed to contribute to an elevated suicide rate among military men and women. Efforts to alleviate PTSD and its attendant conditions should be fast-tracked, and pursued with unrestricted access to any and all psychoactive substances that have shown potential for enhancing emotional and physical wellbeing. Obviously.

Image via gabe-s/VSCO

The confounding reality is that very little of this good research has been conducted to date, and it has taken an extremely long time to get started.

A $2.156 million grant from the State of Colorado to fund the MAPS study is good news. Any research conducted in the spirit of expanding the breadth and efficacy of PTSD care options is good research. The confounding reality is that very little of this good research has been conducted to date, and it has taken an extremely long time to get started.

Again, the question must be asked: Why is the DEA telling the research community what it can and cannot do?

The Drug Enforcement Administration, as indicated in its very title, is a mechanism of enforcement. The DEA is not meant nor equipped to craft a vision of sensible drugs usage for U.S. veterans, or any other resident on this planet, and extract best practices from that vision.

Identifying solutions to opioid epidemics and determining harm-reduction tactics to general substance consumption are the kinds of jobs scientists have trained for their entire lives. Let's pretend we live in a country where bureaucratic procedures are governed by logic: In that world, the research community would be setting guidelines and parameters for the DEA's activities, not the other way around.

Actual scientists at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and The Lancet have determined that the War on Drugs "undercuts public health, increases risk of death, and exacerbates ongoing health crises around the globe."

This unwon, senseless War on Drugs, scientifically condemned for its fatal ripple effects, is kept alive—in America and abroad—primarily by the DEA.

No wonder the DEA has been so reticent to grant marijuana research rights. The findings that are already in don't show its work in a good light.

If you agree that the DEA should be held accountable to cooler heads, take a deep breath. You've earned it. Now share this little bit of commonsense on social media.