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As prohibition has been rolling back across the country, small steps into medical research with cannabis have been taken by brave scientists. One of those ingenious people on the cutting edge of science, Doctor Suzanne A. Sisley, has had her opportunity for comprehensive, university-funded research summarily destroyed, without explanation. Dr. Sisley was about to commence a breakthrough domestic medical study regarding PTSD and cannabis, the first of its kind. She went through the process of getting approval from the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Public Health Service, as well as conditional approval from the University of Arizona’s Institutional Review Board. Her study was a beacon of hope for the thousands of combat veterans who are struggling with PTSD.
The study, funded entirely by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, was also a political point of contention for some conservatives in the state, including members of the Arizona Legislature. When Sisley lobbied to use some of the taxes generated by medical marijuana dispensaries for her research, she was shut down by a Republican senator. Backers of the study then attempted to recall the senator. Sisley has stated she had no official involvement with the recall attempt, but that didn’t stop those involved in the effort from illegally using the University of Arizona logo on a flier.
During that debacle, she had to provide the University with a letter outlining her activism, a letter in which she distanced herself from the recall movement and stated that she has not used University resources for her activism. Because the University of Arizona is a public university, it is at the mercy of funding from the state Legislature. Although the University has insisted there was no political influence involved in Sisley’s firing, she strongly feels otherwise. According to the official letter from the University, Doctor Sisley was fired for undisclosed reasons, but Sisley says she knows why: Republican forces in the legislative branch who controlled university funding were critical of her research and angry about the efforts of activists to influence their process.
Ironically, this new broke just days before the 4th of July, a day meant to celebrate freedom and huge strides forward in human society. For the many thousands of combat veterans whose hope hinges on the outcome of Sisley’s study (or another similar to it), each day that this study is delayed means another 22 suicides. And Sisley estimates that if she finds a new research university willing to take her on, it will take at least a year, probably two, to get the study started. That’s a huge human cost for a pointless political move.
Photo Credit: Twrightfulcrum (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons