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Veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, commonly referred to as PTSD, rely on medical marijuana to treat a variety of symptoms including haunting nightmares and sleeplessness. The good news: Research to explore marijuana as treatment for PTSD was recently approved. The bad: Study cannot begin until the US Public Health Service gives scientists permission to buy pot. Several months ago, a Food and Drug Administration and University of Arizona Institutional Review Board gave researchers approval to begin studying the effects of marijuana on US military veterans with PTSD. However, the study, which is being financed by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), has been in limbo for the past 14 weeks because the Public Health Service has not authorized them to purchase “study” marijuana. MAPS Executive Director Rick Doblin, Ph.D. says his team intends to investigate the safety and effectiveness of both smoked and vaporized marijuana on a group of 50 US veterans suffering from “chronic, treatment-resistant” PTSD. Interestingly, previous animal studies have suggested that marijuana effectually offers silence to an overactive fear system, but federal prohibition laws have kept scientists from conducting clinical trails on patients suffering from PTSD. “This groundbreaking research could assist doctors in how to recommend treatment for PTSD patients who have been unresponsive to traditional therapies,” said Dr. Doblin. Before the study can receive the official green light, the Public Health Service must first conduct a special review for the requested marijuana. Although there is a hefty supply of government marijuana allotted for FDA-regulated research, disbursement of this “science weed” is big brothered by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Drug Enforcement Administration, who have specifically mandated additional reviews be administered for study marijuana -- no extra review is required for any other substance with a Schedule I classification. After having their research rejected in 2011, MAPS resubmitted revisions to the project in October of last year, but they are not holding their breath for timely response. While the FDA is required to respond to inquiries within 30 days, the Public Health Service has no time constraints. Therefore, until the agency decides they are ready to respond, potentially life saving research is on hold. “If the PHS review requirement was removed,” said Dr. Sue Sisley, who would lead the study, “we would gather information that could help veterans today. The stifling of medical research on marijuana stands in the way of our vets returning to a normal life.”
The federal Drug Enforcement Administration has flouted Mendocino County, California’s newly enacted medical marijuana ordinance by raiding the first collective that had applied to the sheriff’s cultivation permit program. A multi-agency federal task force descended on the property of Joy Greenfield, the first Mendo patient to pay the $1,050 application fee under the ordinance, which allows collectives to grow up to 99 plants provided they comply with certain regulations. Greenfield had applied in the name of her collective, “Light The Way,” which opened in San Diego earlier this year. Her property had passed a preliminary inspection by the Mendo sheriff’s deputies shortly before the raid, and she had bought the sheriff’s “zip-ties” intended to designate her cannabis plants as legal. In the days before the raid, Greenfield had seen a helicopter hovering over her property; she inquired with the sheriff, who told her the copter belonged to the DEA and wasn’t under his control. The agents invaded her property with guns drawn, tore out the collective’s 99 plants and took Greenfield’s computer and cash. Joy was not at home during the raid, but spoke on the phone to the DEA agent in charge. When she told he she was a legal grower under the sheriff’s program, the agent replied, “I don’t care what the sheriff says.” When she returned to her house she found it in disarray with soda cans strewn on the floor. “It was just a mess,” she said. “No one should be able to tear your house apart like that.” Greenfield called the raid a “slap in the face of Mendocino’s government.” The DEA has been tight-lipped about the raid, but claims it was part of a larger investigation involving other suspects. “Here Mendo is trying to step out in front by passing this ordinance, and what do the Feds do but raid the first applicant,” said Greenfield’s attorney, Bob Boyd of Ukiah. “The DEA is stepping all over local authorities trying to tax and regulate,” Boyd said. Neither Boyd nor other locals believe that the sheriff tipped off the DEA or gave them any information about permit applicants. Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman confirmed Friday that the property owner had the proper paperwork and the marijuana was legal in the eyes of the county. “This was a federal operation and had nothing to do with local law enforcement,” Allman said. “The federal government made a decision to go ahead and eradicate it.” Sheriff Allman has been highly supportive of efforts to bring local growers into the permit program. Nonetheless, observers fear the raid will have a chilling effect on medical cultivators, possibly causing supply problems for local patients. “This raid is clear evidence that the DEA is out of control,” said California NORML director Dale Gieringer. “A change in federal law is long overdue.” “In the meantime, the DEA needs a new director who will enforce Attorney General Holder’s pledge not to interfere in state medical marijuana laws,” Gierigner said. The DEA is currently directed by Michele Leonhart, a Bush Administration holdover who has presided over numerous medical marijuana raids, and has obstructed research efforts to develop marijuana for medicine. President Obama has renominated Leonhart to head the agency — a move strongly opposed by drug reformers, who are calling on the administration to honor its pledge of change. By Steve Elliott, News Junkie Post Posted on July 12, 2010, Printed on July 17, 2010 http://www.alternet.org/story/147506/ © 2010 News Junkie Post All rights reserved. View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/147506/