Michigan study could help veterans with PTSD to gain insurance coverage for cannabis-based medicines


Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Two fascinating research projects have received financial backing from Michigan’s adult-use cannabis program. The research efforts aim to assess the effects of medical cannabis use on military veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The $20 million grant – which comes from Michigan’s $20 million Veteran Marijuana Research Grant Programwill serve as a lifeline for the study’s next stage.

According to researchers, it will be the first ever clinical trial of inhaled botanical cannabis for PTSD. Moreover, the trial is the second ever to be carried out into the safety and effectiveness of cannabis over a placebo.

On top of this, $7 million in cannabis revenue-funded grant money was awarded to Wayne State University’s Bureau of Community Action and Economic Opportunity. The department has collaborated with researchers to explore the way(s) in which cannabis may help to relieve mental health problems, such as anxiety, depression, suicidality, sleep disorders and, of course, PTSD.

Veterans are renowned for suffering from depression, PTSD and substance use disorders 

A significant portion of the research grant money will be used to explorethe efficacy of [cannabis] in treating the medical conditions of United States armed service veterans and preventing veteran suicide.”

This is based on the words of recipients at the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), who noted that almost $13 million will be funneled into research that could benefit military veterans.

Members of the Association say that mental health disorders, substance use disorders and suicidal thoughts tend to plague military veterans. This is unsurprising, considering the trauma that many veterans face during their time spent dealing with on-site disasters.

MAPS says that the clinical trial does “not exclude” military veterans with substance use disorder and major depressive disorder. In total, 320 veterans will spend five weeks “self-administering inhaled, self-titrated doses of high-quality botanical cannabis on an outpatient basis for treatment of PTSD” across four sites. 

Two of those sites are based in Michigan, where tax revenue earned through the state’s cannabis industry will be used to fund the study.

Study will be funded by Michigan’s $20 million Veteran Marijuana Research Grant Program

Understanding the benefits of using cannabis for veterans with PTSD is a costly task. Thankfully, the expense associated with embarking on this research mission will be covered by Michigan’s $20 million Veteran Marijuana Research Grant Program. 

Founded in 2018, this research grant program was formed as part of the state’s cannabis legalization law. A previous study, which was also organized by MAPs, received $2.2 million in funding from Colorado’s Department of Public Health and Environment.

“Good tolerability and improvements in PTSD symptoms after three weeks” were demonstrated after the FDA-regulated controlled study’s completion.

Should the new study be successful, it’s likely that Phase 3 trials will ensue. The end goal is for cannabis to be developed and sold as a pharmaceutical drug. If veterans are lucky, their insurance could, one day, cover a cannabis-based medicine that has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).