PTSD / Cannabis Study Completed




Treating PTSD with Cannabis has had its first controlled trial as reported in peer reviewed journal PLOS ONE. No safety concerns were raised which gives way to further research in order to determine efficacy.

Plos One has completed a peer reviewed paper covering the clinical trial analyses of results from a randomized cross-over style of clinical trial, studying Short-Term Impact to PTSD symptoms as a result of smoking 3 normalized preparations of Cannabis versus Placebo.MAPS recieved funding for the study from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and was conducted by MAPS Public Benefit Corporation (MAPS PBC), Though no statistically significant difference was shown between the groups, all showed improvement in PTSD symptoms during treatment with the THC group having the largest response.

Personalized first hand experiences that resulted in immediate beneficial improvement on everything from digestion to mood regulation have led to widespread self-medication with cannabis in order to mitigate the effects of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in disparate patient populations. The patient safety and general efficacy of cannabis treatments have as of yet, not been studied using randomized clinical testing. There were little to no negative side effects reported associated with any of the 3 normalized concentrations of cannabis that was smoked.


The 9% THC concentration gave the strongest results. The study could not statistically determine any significant difference relating to the change in the severity of PTSD symptoms between strains with 9% THC, 11% CBD, 8%THC/8%CBD combination versus placebo. There are hundreds of cannabinoids. There is a great deal of room here for research to be performed in the area of the “Entourage effect” among cannabinoids. The Entourage effect is when other cannabinoids in a sample affect the end result of the medicine. For instance if Mercene is present in high concentrations then the patient would experience a sensation of being very comfortable and wanting to move too much. This is an effect known in the retail cannabis industry as “ Couch-Lock”. THC is a pain reliever. It directly reduces the amplitude and frequency of Noci-receptors (pain receptors). CBD is a wonderful NSAID and once the tissues begin to reduce inflammation relief is felt almost immediately. It is the other hundreds of cannabinoids that then shape and color this experience. Scientific reductionism needs to be considered as a limiting factor when studying a medicine that represents an amalgamation of hundreds of little medicines (cannabinoids) in combination..

“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 PTSD” said Dr. Marcel O. Bonn-Miller, Coordinating Principal Investigator. “These data, coupled with those of a recently completed accompanying study also funded by CDPHE, provide better insight into why individuals with PTSD are turning to predominantly-THC-cannabis as a treatment. We now require larger randomized placebo-controlled trials to determine minimally-effective doses of THC needed to safely treat individuals suffering from PTSD while also mitigating risks of cannabis dependence in this vulnerable population.”


As veterans have known for hundreds of years now. “One of the biggest take-aways 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 Loflin, Ph.D.,



Co-author, Site Principal Investigator, and Sue Sisley, M.D.,President of The Scottsdale Research Institute and Principal Site Investigator ,noted “This study’s safety data and other research in PTSD patients in Colorado using real-world cannabis flower are promising. Despite the absurd restrictions federal prohibitionists have placed on research for more than 50 years, we are squarely focused on launching further Phase 2 trials with imported cannabis of tested, higher potency, fresher flowers that will provide a valid comparison for the millions of Veterans and others with PTSD who are looking for new options.”

Inspired by hundreds of years of efficacious use and evidence that suggests cannabis is effective with respect toward successful symptom maintenance and PTSD treatment. This study was the first to evaluate the safety and efficacy of cannabis inside of an FDA-regulated, double-blind clinical trial for the sake of measuring the size of its effect. Seventy-six Veterans took part in the study. Of the predominantly male Veterans completing the study, the ages ranged from 24 to 77. In the first Stage,randomized participants received 9% THC,11% CBD, a mix of 8%THC and 8% CBD, cannabis preparations or a placebo. Preparations were provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).


While the severity of symptoms related to PTSD decreased among all trial groups, there was no demonstration of statistical significance between the cannabis and placebo group or the groups that received cannabis as assessed by a Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS-5).

“This study took seven years to obtain approval and three years to conduct at a cost of $2.2 million. The difference between anecdotal reports and these results may be the quality of the marijuana,” said Rick Doblin, Ph.D, Executive Director of MAPS, “which highlights the need for further well-controlled clinical trials that more closely represent currently available marijuana products. Higher quality cannabis flower suitable for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval are currently unavailable domestically due to restrictions on production imposed by the U.S. Department of Justice and Drug Enforcement Administration and must be imported.”

PTSD is persistent and life changing. Cannabis has worked for millenia to relieve symptoms related to PTSD. A patient's will to cure themselves does not politely wait for science to catch up to what we have known for millennia. Cannabis works and that is why Veterans are using it. Kudos to MAPS for taking the initiative but let's not play coy and act like we don't understand that it works and people are using it for healing as we speak.



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