Guest Spotlight: PTSD & Cannabis
Greetings, Picasso is widely quoted as saying “good artists copy; great artists steal.” Keeping with this grand artistic tradition, this quarter’s newsletter comes from one of Presidio View’s earliest partners – Dr. Mitch Earleywine, Professor of Psychology at the University of Albany, SUNY. This will be one of several future missives inspired by our network of cannabis experts. We think their highly informed and diverse viewpoints can offer you a lot of insights…and let’s be honest, you’re probably tired of our attempts at humor. Dr. Earleywine is a widely recognized expert on the cannabis industry, with over 200 publications, his own column called “Ask Dr. Mitch,” and regular appearances on NPR. His thoughts on cannabis have appeared in such publications as The New York Times, Economist, and Rolling Stone, to name just a few. Finally, he is currently on the Advisory Board, and was formerly Chairman, of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Today, Dr. Earleywine shares his thoughts on a tremendously important topic, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Without further ado… A committed crew who serve in our military, as well as those who defend their own countries around the world, face risky, tough predicaments day after day. Almost inevitably a subset of these devoted men and women experience terrifying events that would leave most anyone shaken. Unpredictable ordeals can shock those of us in the civilian world, too. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, the collection of symptoms that can arise after these severe events, affects 9% of us some time in life. The daily anxiety, distress, troubled sleep, and intrusive thoughts can drain the toughest of the tough. Many people with the disorder feel the future holds little and they frequently catch themselves zoned out, caught up in memories of grisly moments, or doing everything they can to avoid thinking. As one of my clients once said, it’s like being at war with your own mind. Most seem antsy and wound-up, quick to jump at the sound of a slammed door or car backfire. Multiple available treatments hold promise; not one is perfect. Classic anti-depressants provide a little help for about half of those with symptoms, but other medications have shown little promise. Psychological interventions help the majority of those who complete them, but they often require months of difficult work before clients experience genuine relief. Many sufferers exclaimed that cannabis helped a lot, with research from my own lab revealing many reporting considerable relief. One such study (including +650 combat-exposed, military veterans) was published in The Journal of Pyschoactive Drugs in July 2014. The intrusive thoughts and hyper-arousal responded particularly well, and the plant frequently tackled the debilitating insomnia. But as you might guess, follow-up research has lagged. After decades of legal wrangling, administrative red tape, and effortful fundraising, a crew of researchers has received approval to administer cannabis to prove its efficacy. (See http://www.wecanstudy.org/). As frustrating as the slow progress has been, it’s delightful to see this work get off the ground. New research suggests that PTSD sufferers often have a host of physical ailments that stem from inflammation, and we know that cannabis can be a huge help here as well. (None of the other treatments appear to have this advantage.) Optimism is high. As the cannabis market improves, research like this will gradually become easier to perform, and we’ll get more and more chances to confirm the plant’s legendary potential. Hear Dr. Mitch Earleywine interview Joshua Littrell of Veterans for Cannabis. Powerful and thought provoking – but just the tip of the iceberg for Dr. Earleywine’s writing. We encourage you to reach out to us with any questions or for more information! Thanks for tuning in, and we look forward to providing you with more industry and business updates in the coming months. Until next time!