Study: Cannabis May Mitigate Traumatic Memories In Patients With PTSD

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 5, 2012

    [Editor’s note: This post is excerpted from this week’s forthcoming NORML weekly media advisory. To have NORML’s news alerts and legislative advisories delivered straight to your in-box, sign up here.]

    The use of cannabis and cannabinoids appears to mitigate symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to a new review of clinical and preclinical evidence published online in the scientific journal Drug Testing and Analysis.

    An international team of investigators from Germany, the United States, and the United Kingdom reported that the use of cannabis to “dramatically reduced” PTSD symptoms in a single 19-year-old male patient.

    Authors reported: “In the case report presented in this review, the patient displayed a grave pathology involving anxiety, dissociation and heavy flashbacks as a consequence of PTSD. … The patient stated that he found cannabis more useful than lorazepam. … It is evident from the case history that the patient experienced reduced stress, less involvement with flashbacks and a significant decrease of anxiety.

    Authors further cited “accumulating clinical and preclinical evidence that cannabinoids may mitigate some major symptoms associated with PTSD.”

    They concluded: “Cannabis may dampen the strength or emotional impact of traumatic memories through synergistic mechanisms that might make it easier for people with PTSD to rest or sleep and to feel less anxious and less involved with flashback memories. … Evidence is increasingly accumulating that cannabinoids might play a role in fear extinction and anti-depressive effects. It is concluded that further studies are warranted in order to evaluate the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids in PTSD.”

    Last year, administrators at the United States Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) blocked investigators at the University of Arizona at Phoenix from conducting an FDA-approved, placebo-controlled clinical trial to evaluate the use of cannabis in 50 patients with PTSD.

    Under federal law, any clinical trial evaluations involving cannabis must receive NIDA approval because the agency is the only source of legal cannabis for FDA-approved research purposes. In 2010, a spokesperson for the agency told The New York Times: “[O]ur focus is primarily on the negative consequences of marijuana use. We generally do not fund research focused on the potential beneficial medical effects of marijuana.”

    53 responses to “Study: Cannabis May Mitigate Traumatic Memories In Patients With PTSD”

    1. jbkorn02 says:

      This quote is just wrong. “[Our focus is primarily on the negative consequences of marijuana use. We generally do not fund research focused on the potential beneficial medical effects of marijuana.” Why would they only look for negative things? Shouldn’t it be the other way around like with everything else?

    2. Reese says:

      I’m callin’ it. 2014: New Era for Medical Marijuana.

    3. six gun sheri says:

      It allows you some emotional distance from those horrible spiraling thoughts, they don’t suck you in. It does work.

    4. Galileo Galilei says:

      It would seem it’s time to for NIDA to reassess its focus.

    5. averagejoe says:

      so in other words, NIDA says that they are going to only look at one side of the coin.

      sounds very objective….

      in counterpoint to my own arguement, they are the National Institute on Drug Abuse. so of course they are going to look at all the negative aspects…..

      but in counter point to my counter point; wouldn’t they want to study the drug as a whole in order to get a full picture of the thing globally so they can better learn how to fight addiction?

      alas, i suppose that would make too much sence…

    6. Patricia says:

      It speaks volumes about American science that one has to go outside America to do scientific research into marijuana and PTSD. If creationists had the power to block Americans from conducting research into human evolution, American scientists would be rioting in the streets. How sad that American scientists allow the drug war bureaucracy to have their way with science. It’s disgusting that this corrupt situation is allowed to persist.

    7. Michael Stanley says:

      I am a veteran of 2 tours to iraq and i suffer from PTSD and chronic back pain, and i am in the process of receiving compensation but the pills they give me and the substance abuse classes do nothing for me at all, i didnt start smoking marijuana until 2009 when i got off active duty and came back home to south carolina and it does more for me than any pill or class and i want to know what more could i do in the state of south carolina where marijuana is illegal by all means. i support legalization for medicinal marijuana and recreational use but i can honestly say marijuana has changed my life for the better and especially for my back pain and PTSD it helps me function when nothing else does, so whatever i can do to help south carolina even think about legalizing i will do my part cause im tired of going through drug dealers for my medication.

    8. Shane says:

      I know it help’s me a great deal with my PTSD after two tours in Iraq. Works to alleviate the depression, anger, and the anxiety issues.

    9. Patricia says:

      The good news here is that the American drug war bureaucracy may be able to corrupt and control American science, but it cannot corrupt and control science all over the world.

    10. Greg says:

      Another issue I have is I doubt anyone is asking NIDA to fund the research… only allow it. I’m sure there are plenty of organizations out there willing to support solid medical exploration if self-serving government bureaucracies weren’t an obstacle. If NIDA’s sole function is harm-seeking research we should have another institute that functions as the other side of that coin in order to gain all possible knowledge. Having a single group serve the solitary role as gatekeeper to any knowledge is guaranteed to corrupt them, as we can all clearly see. In an intelligent and high-functioning civilization we’d have an academy focused on knowing all aspects of everything rather than just what is needed for political jockeying. Sure would be nice to see that before my number’s up.