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The Government Debates THC or MDMA for Treating PTSD

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VA doctors are currently forbidden from filling out the forms their patients need to participate in state medical marijuana programs. Chris Hondros/Getty Images

As PTSD amongst veterans of OIF and OEF nears epidemic levels, between 11% and 20% of vets, the government looks to shut down one controversial study to begin another

What it means: “Federal law restricts VA’s ability to conduct research involving medical marijuana, or to refer veterans to such research projects,” said VA Press Secretary Curt Cashour.

Investigation potential uses for cannabis — long praised by supporters for pain management and mood stabilization — has proven much more difficult, largely because of more restrictive federal rules over its handling and experimentation.

It’s classified as a schedule 1 drug, alongside heroin and cocaine, severely limiting how it can be purchased and used for scientific studies. Congressional efforts to change that and broaden medical research have stalled in recent years.

The struggles come just days after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced plans to redesignate the main ingredient of the psychedelic drug ecstasy as a “breakthrough therapy” for treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, a move hailed by advocates as increasing opportunities for helping veterans.

Typically used in recreational settings, MDMA’s effects have shown — throughout clinical trials — to significantly improve the mental well-being of individuals suffering from PTSD.

With FDA cooperation, continued studies will soon get underway and will be led by the California-based nonprofit, Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, or MAPS, an organization that has been researching the effects of MDMA for over 30 years.

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