Saving Sisley

Phoenix MMJ scientist Sue Sisley needs PTSD patients for her study

Our Friendly Neighborhood scientist, Sue Sisley, who has been studying the effects of marijuana in treating PTSD, needs some help. Sisley has worked tirelessly to get her Phoenix-based operation off the ground after battling government agencies and now faces a shortage of patients.

Sisley's experiment initially called for veterans with PTSD to study how marijuana affects the disease, for better or worse. But she needs 76 more patients to continue the investigation and Arizona veterans just aren't enough, so she's extending the call to the civilian community.

PTSD is already a qualifying condition in Arizona, as it is in most states that have legalized medical marijuana.

Of the state's 143,000 medical marijuana patients,1.34 percent registered for their card listing PTSD as the primary reason for use, which translates to 1,900 patients, according to the latest report from the Arizona Department of Health Services.

The Phoenix Veterans Affairs hospital has been restricting Sisley's access to patients, even though some veterans swear by the effect marijuana has on their health, vastly preferring it to the sanctioned cocktail of pills often offered by Veterans Affairs.

But Sisley's experiment has implications far beyond demonstrating the plant's effect on PTSD.

Her work is the first FDA-approved Phase 2 study of marijuana. It's the tip of the spear in forcing the government to recognize that marijuana does in fact have medical benefits. If that's the verdict reached by Sisley's science, the results would directly contradict the specifications of a Schedule I drug.

Simply, if Sisley's experiment shows marijuana can effectively treat PTSD, the feds will have to take a good, hard look at their marijuana policy and either admit ulterior motives to marijuana prohibition, or at the very least knock it down on the schedule.

But perhaps the most admirable aspect of Sisley's research (as if calling out the DEA's bullshit isn't enough) is that she's not actually trying to prove anything.

Sisley identifies as a Republican, and always has. It may seem strange that a member of the party so staunchly opposing legalization leads the charge in the most important scientific study to end marijuana persecution, but that just speaks to Sisley's scientific integrity.

In recent years she's been painted as a sort of marijuana activist, but that's not her goal. She simply wants to use science to answer society's smoking questions.

Since leaving the University of Arizona in 2014 over conflicts concerning her area of study, Sisley has faced adversity at every step in her study. Allies like Colorado's Department of Health and a California-based research group called the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies have helped Sisely secure the support she's needed to face off against big government.

She grappled with the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which is the sole provider of marijuana for research, over its crappy ditch weed grown at the University of Mississippi. MAPS helped launch a lawsuit that resulted in the government opening up applications for other sanctioned growers (though none have yet been approved.)

In such politically charged times, Sisley's continuing war is a reminder that our political ideology need not separate us in our collective crusades. Her struggle against overbearing regulation brings out the red in even the bluest of us.

If you think you're interested in lending your time to the front lines, pick up the phone and call the Scottsdale Research Institute at (623) 587-5660 or send an email to

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