Authored ByJulie Godard

Writer, Editor,
Information Architect, & Web Content Writer

Treating Violence and Abuse with Cannabis: Canada’s New PTSD Study

It’s clear that cannabis has been helping many people lately – it’s become a major player in the effort to treat people with diseases like epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, CTE, and many others, along with treating chronic pain. Veterans suffering from PTSD have lauded its benefits, and several studies have begun over the past few years to establish what exactly those benefits are, and how PTSD sufferers can be best treated using cannabis and cannabis derivatives. What no one is talking about are the other sufferers of PTSD – not veterans, but other people who suffer with PTSD from traumatic incidents or violent or sexual abuse during their lives. These people also deserve recognition as PTSD sufferers, and a new University of British Columbia (UBC) study in partnership with Tilray’s (a leading licensed producer of medical cannabis in Canada) research department is working to ensure that happens.

About Canada’s First Clinical PTSD Study

I recently spoke to Zach Walsh, PhD., a UBC Associate Professor, clinical psychologist, and principle study investigator for the PTSD study at the Okanagan Kelowna campus in BC. I also spoke with Philippe Lucas, Vice President of patient research and advocacy at Tilray.

The trial has been fully approved by Canada’s government and Health Canada, and enrollment of participants in the study has just begun. The study will treat participants through portable vaporized cannabis delivery methods with strains that contain 10% THC, 10% THC and CBD, and a placebo. This study is the first to use a hybrid THC/CBD treatment for PTSD, and Walsh and Lucas are very curious to find out if the effects are more positive for PTSD sufferers than only THC treatments (they predict that the CBD will help PTSD patients, primarily because it can reduce anxiety).

Tilray’s current PTSD patients can only further benefit from the results and outcome of the study. According to Trev Bungay of Trauma Healing Centers in Canada, over 9% of Canada’s men and women suffer from PTSD and need help finding “coping methods to continue to live a full and normal life.”

The study will include 42 men and women from Canada with PTSD, including veterans, law enforcement officials, and victims of sexual assault or violence. The study will last until the spring of 2018, and candidates are encouraged to apply for the study from the UBC area. To get more information about the study, contact Zach Walsh at ptsd.study@ubc.ca.

Dr. Walsh runs two separate research labs at UBC, the Therapeutic, Recreational, and Problematic Substance Use lab, and the Personality and Violence lab which focuses on intimate partner violence in addition to examining combat-related PTSD. The study has the potential to provide insight into how to help those with PTSD-related to domestic violence and assault, as well.

Domestic Violence and Abuse in Canada & Worldwide

According to the Canadian Women’s Health Network, 25% of all violent crimes in Canada involve family violence (at least those reported to the police), 70% of all family violence reports are girls or women, and the rates are highest among women between the ages of 25 and 34. Girls are four times more likely to be victims of sexual assault or sexual offenses from a family member than boys. In addition, 65% of all spouses accused of homicide come from a history of estrangement, divorce, or separation and family violence involving the victims. These numbers demonstrate the high rates of violence and abuse survivors in Canada that might be helped by the Tilray & UCB study outcomes. According to the World Health Organization, 35% of women all over the world have experience domestic or sexual violence of some type, and studies like this one can help treat these victims and others through cannabis therapies and psychological therapies without risking addiction or self-medicating issues.  PTSD is a very real problem for sufferers of abuse, as well as the many people who serve in law enforcement agencies and military organizations across the world; this study will provide solutions for patients who were unable to find relief from other therapies, and provide more information for PTSD sufferers across the planet.