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PTSD And Cannabis -- Can Researchers Cut Through The Politics To Find Out Whether Weed Works?

The study of marijuana as a possible treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder has faced a number of hurdles. Here, a production assistant examines marijuana plants. Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi

Following years of bureaucratic hurdles, the first Food and Drug Administration-approved, randomized controlled trial on cannabis and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is set to begin this summer.

The study of marijuana as a possible treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder has faced a number of hurdles. Here, a production assistant examines marijuana plants. Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi
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CASCADE, Colorado -- Matt Stys funnels a mound of finely ground God’s Gift, a sativa strain of marijuana, into his multicolored glass bowl and takes a hit. “It allows the images and all the things in your head to lose focus and drift away for a while,” says Stys as wisps of smoke curl from his mouth. For Stys, the images of being a noncommissioned officer running an entry control point in Iraq in 2007 and 2008 can fade away with the smoke: recollections of struggling to differentiate potential combatants from Iraqi citizens, of watching the wounded and dead flowing through his security checkpoint. Other demons in his head can waft away too, like the memories of spending his teenage years in foster care, and the moral ache of questioning the war in which he fought.
 
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