The first FDA-regulated study on smoked cannabis among veterans with diagnosed PTSD revealed improvements among those receiving doses with higher levels of THC, an active component in the herbal drug. In the journal of PLOS ONE, the peer-reviewed paper compares results of PTSD treatment in three cannabis combinations.

The study, conducted by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, or MAPS, indicated levels of improvement among participants using smoked cannabis blends with a 9 percent THC concentration. Improvements were also found using samples containing 11 percent CBD, as well as a sample containing 8 percent THC and 8 percent CBD.

THC, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, is the intoxicating, or psychoactive, ingredient of cannabis strains that produce the euphoric “high” effect. CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the non-intoxicating cannabinoids in the cannabis plant.

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The lead author of the above study published the results of a separate, 150-person study in December 2020 that compared participants diagnosed with PTSD who used medical dispensary-supplied cannabis to treat their symptoms with other PTSD sufferers who did not use cannabis.

That study found that over the course of a year the cannabis users “reported a greater decrease in PTSD symptom severity…” Additionally, cannabis users were more than 2.5 times as likely to no longer meet the diagnostic criteria for PTSD as those who did not use cannabis.

“One of the biggest takeaways from this study is that veterans with PTSD can use cannabis at self-managed doses, at least in the short term, and not experience a plethora of side effects or a worsening of symptoms,” said Mallory Loflin, co-author of the paper and volunteer assistant professor of psychiatry at the UC San Diego School of Medicine.