Wayne State University looking for veterans to study benefits of cannabis for PTSD

Posted at 10:25 PM, Aug 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-05 23:16:11-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — On any given Friday night, you find a variety of people inside Greenhouse Dispensary in Walled Lake including veterans like Terry Marshall.

“1964, Vietnam," Marshall said when asked about his service in the Navy. "Wasn’t a fun time, but it was a time.”

Marshall is a loyal customer and employee who now uses cannabis for medical reasons.

"In my later years now, I use it more to cope with things," Marshall said as he pointed to his shoulder. "Especially a little bit of pain I acquired over the years.”

Army veteran Todd Hopper does the same.

“I don't eat these every day," Hopper said of the THC gummies he often eats. "I know when I need them. I know when I'm going to be restless.”

Besides just physical pain, veterans sometimes use cannabis to treat post traumatic stress disorder. The Department of Veterans Affairs doesn’t recommend this, saying current research doesn’t support it.

“Public opinion has really outpaced science in terms of cannabinoid therapeutics,” said Dr. Leslie Lundahl, an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Neurosciences at the Wayne State University School of Medicine. "There are animal data that suggest it might be helpful, there are anecdotal reports that it might be helpful for pain or for PTSD or mood or anxiety, but we don't really have any hard scientific data to really support that.”

That's why Lundahl and her team at Wayne State University are launching a new study to find out whether CBD and THC can help with PTSD.

“Specifically, we’re looking at PTSD symptoms severity and then frequency and severity of suicidal thoughts and behavior," Lundahl said.

The study will also test cognitive function and monitor vitals while also testing blood urine and saliva samples. When studying regular users, they're hoping to find lower levels of THC that can produce effective results.

“That's important because we know as you go higher in the concentration and level of THC, there are greater risks to using it," Lundahl said. "Especially if you are using it chronically.”

They’ll use different doses with different studies, working to enlist the help of 350 veterans. One of the studies is using Michigan cannabis from Redbud Roots.

“To me, the biggest thing is the ability to be able to talk about cannabis and veterans in the same sentence,” Redbud Roots COO and co-founder Alex Leonowicz said. "Five years ago, you couldn't even talk about it or mention if you use it, but now fast forward, you have some of the largest institutions in the state of Michigan studying its impact on mental health.”

Lundahl says it’s unclear what conclusion the study might reach, but veterans who do use cannabis expect positive results.

“I think it would help a lot of it," Marshall said of PTSD symptoms among veterans. "They just got to do a little more research, and that’s what this is about.”

“We're going to follow the data," Lundahl said. "I think there's probably going to be some benefit to these cannabinoids, but we don't know for sure.”

The grant money came from tax revenue from marijauna sales in Michigan. The University of Michigan was also awarded more than $7 million to fund similar research.

If you or a loved one are interested in joining the study, visit warriorcare.net.