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VFW: Federal Study Finds Cannabis Beneficial for PTSD Treatment

By Todd South

For veterans diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and looking for alternative ways to treat it, the first FDA-regulated study on the benefits of smoked cannabis yielded favorable results this year.

In a placebo-controlled, double-blind study published on March 17 in PLOS ONE, the peer-reviewed journal specified levels of improvement among participants using smoked cannabis blends with a 9 percent THC concentration.

The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), a San Jose, Calif.-based, nonprofit founded in 1986 to raise awareness and understanding of psychedelic substances, conducted the study. In it, the research showed improvements in samples containing 11 percent CBD, as well as mixed samples containing 8 percent of both THC and CBD.

“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 added that the next step of the study involves conducting larger, randomized placebo-controlled trials.

“It would help determine the minimally-effective doses of THC needed to safely treat individuals suffering from PTSD,” Bonn-Miller said. “It will also mitigate risks of cannabis dependence in this vulnerable population.”

The results published on March 17 extend from a separate, 150-person study conducted in December 2020.

In that study, MAPS compared participants diagnosed with PTSD who used prescribed cannabis with other PTSD sufferers who do not use cannabis to treat symptoms.

Over the course of a year, the study found that cannabis users reported a greater decrease in the severity of their PTSD symptoms. They also were more than 2.5 times as likely to no longer meet the diagnostic criteria for PTSD as those who did not use cannabis.

The 2020 study, unlike its most recent version published on March 17, had not implemented the added use of placebo control.

“One of the biggest takeaways from this study is that veterans with PTSD can use cannabis at self-managed doses, at least in the short term, and not experience a plethora of side effects or a worsening of symptoms,” said Mallory Lofl in, a co-author of the paper and volunteer assistant professor of psychiatry at the UC San Diego School of Medicine.


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