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Military Times: FDA-regulated study shows promise for using marijuana to treat veterans with PTSD

By Todd South

The first FDA-regulated, placebo-controlled, double-blind study on smoked cannabis among veterans with diagnosed PTSD revealed improvements among those receiving doses with higher levels of THC, an active component in the herbal drug.

Published March 17 in the journal PLOS ONE, the peer-reviewed paper compares results of PTSD treatment in three cannabis combinations, as well as a placebo control group.

The study, conducted by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, or MAPS, indicated levels of improvement among participants using smoked cannabis blends with a 9 percent THC concentration. Improvements were also found using samples containing 11 percent CBD, as well as a sample containing 8 percent THC and 8 percent CBD. A fourth group, which also reported improvements, used a placebo.

THC, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, is the intoxicating, or psychoactive, ingredient of cannabis strains that produce the euphoric “high” effect. CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the non-intoxicating cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. CBD-only products have been widely adopted in multiple states for medical, therapeutic and recreational uses.

“This study served as the first randomized placebo-controlled trial comparing the therapeutic potential of varying ratios of THC and CBD for treating symptoms of PTS,” said Dr. Marcel O. Bonn-Miller, lead author of the study.

Bonn-Miller said the next step is to conduct larger, randomized, placebo-controlled trials that would help determine the “minimally-effective doses of THC needed to safely treat individuals suffering from PTSD while also mitigating risks of cannabis dependence in this vulnerable population.”

The lead author published the results of a separate, 150-person study in December 2020 that compared participants diagnosed with PTSD who used medical dispensary-supplied cannabis to treat their symptoms with other PTSD sufferers who did not use cannabis.

That study found that over the course of a year the cannabis users “reported a greater decrease in PTSD symptom severity…” Additionally, cannabis users were more than 2.5 times as likely to no longer meet the diagnostic criteria for PTSD as those who did not use cannabis. However, that particular study, unlike the most recent version, did not have the added use of placebo control.

Read more at Military Times.

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