PTSD Archives - Green Market Report

Julie AitchesonMay 5, 2021
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The Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) has worked for the last 35 years to shift the perception around psychedelics as a treatment tool for mental health issues. Now, with the release of data from its Phase III trial with the FDA for the use of MDMA (ecstasy) to treat PTSD, MAPS’ work has coalesced into findings that could change the mental health treatment landscape as we know it. 

MDMA is on the cusp of FDA approval to treat PTSD, not just for military veterans, but for an array of people who have suffered from abuse and other trauma-inducing events. In 2017, the FDA granted MDMA “breakthrough therapy status” in anticipation of approving it as a medication for mental health, and the release of MAPS’ latest statistically significant findings constitutes a huge leap towards legalization. 

The conversation around the legalization of psychedelic drugs is not new to the mental health community. Trials testing the efficacy of psychedelics such as LSD for mental illness began as early as the 1950s. By the 1960s more than 1,000 papers had been published about LSD as a treatment for depression, alcoholism, schizophrenia, and as an adjunct to psychotherapy. These trials lacked the scientific rigor necessary for legitimacy in the eyes of the FDA, but due in no small part to the work of MAPS, legitimacy is no longer the stumbling block it once was.

 MDMA showed efficacy for treating PTSD in six MAPS Phase II trials, providing a cost-saving and clinically beneficial treatment for those with severe or extreme chronic PTSD resulting from any cause. The Phase III trial is the first of any psychedelic-assisted therapy. It was a randomized, blinded study designed under an FDA-approved Special Protocol Assessment. 90 patients with severe, chronic PTSD were enrolled in the trial and randomized to receive either MDMA or a placebo. The results, according to the lead author of the paper, Jennifer Mitchell, Ph.D., were significant. “People with the most difficult-to-treat diagnosis, often considered intractable, respond just as well to this novel treatment as other participants. In fact, participants diagnosed with the dissociative type of PTSD experienced a greater reduction in symptoms than those without the dissociative subtype.”

The Phase III trial data revealed that 67% of the group who received MDMA no longer qualified for a PTSD diagnosis after three treatment sessions (compared to 32% of the placebo group). 88% of participants in the MDMA sessions experienced a clinically significant reduction in symptoms, as opposed to 60% of the placebo group who received therapy alone. Mitchell attributes MDMA’s effectiveness to its role as a catalyst in therapy, which often involves recalling, and frequently reactivating, previous trauma. “The unique ability of MDMA to raise compassion and understanding while tamping down fear is likely what enables it to be so effective.”

Researchers are currently enrolling participants in a second Phase III trial and MAPS is formulating plans for additional studies to evaluate MDMA’s efficacy for mental health conditions not yet explored, as well as other protocols beyond one-on-one sessions, including group therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy focused on couples. The fact that MDMA is currently classified as a Schedule I drug and defined as having “no medical benefit” means that the only way to receive MDMA-assisted therapy right now is through clinical trials. However, the FDA has given its blessing to an expanded access program so that 50 patients can access MDMA-assisted therapy before it is approved and MAPS has committed to confronting accessibility and equity issues from its own side of the table. While not a sure thing, with MAPS’ latest data and continued efforts in alignment with FDA requirements the hoped-for 2023 FDA approval of MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD is closer to becoming a reality than ever before.


Anne-Marie FischerJanuary 14, 2018
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HARDCAR Security is a veteran-led organization that leverages the specific skills and talents of ex-military officers for its staff. It provides the cannabis industry with a variety of high-tech services aimed at protecting their cash, cannabis, and people with military-grade security, calling itself a “game-changer” within the industry and it does this with the help of veterans.

The company’s service model was borne from the specific competencies that veterans bring to their services of transporting medical cannabis, and protecting cannabis grow operations. HARDCAR embraces the professionalism and leadership experience from the military and applies it to the high-stakes cannabis environment.

Impacting Veterans Employment

Aside from its goal to become the most high-tech cannabis security service in the nation, HARDCAR aspires to make a positive impact on veterans’ employment statistics and their associated narratives in the country.

The post-9/11 veterans faced a significantly high unemployment rate during re-integration into civilian society, many believing that it was due to the stigma associated with PTSD, with rates being as high as 12.1% in 2011. At this time, veterans were falling behind their non-service professional counterparts in snagging the jobs they were qualified for.

In 2016, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation reported that proactive employment programs like the “Hire our Heroes” contributed to cutting veterans’ unemployment in half.
The end of 2017 showed a decrease in the unemployment rate of the country’s veterans over the previous year from 4.1 in 2016, falling to 3.8%, according to the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service.

While the unemployment numbers have fallen and show every reason to be positive, underemployment is a different issue. Many veterans are returning to professional life with advanced skills that are hard to find a place for and are finding jobs in which their underutilized, resulting in a lack of professional fulfillment.

Returning To Civilian Life

“It can be very difficult to find your place in the world after serving in the military,” says Aaron Augustis, a former Sergeant and Combat Engineer in the U.S. Army, Airborne, “I experienced difficulty with my transition back into civilian life. I would have uncontrollable waves of emotions that would hit me.”

Todd Kleperis, a former veteran, and founder and CEO of HARDCAR refers to the 8 full-time and 20 part-time employees as “instant coffee”, as they are ready-equipped and highly-trained to get the job done. “Our ‘boots on the ground’ combat experience is essential to our success,” describes Augustis, “Situational awareness, flexibility, adaptability, discipline, focus and motivation and some of the personal qualities that each of our veterans brings to the work.”

“Each canna run or money run is a mission,” Augustis says of millions of dollars of cash and cannabis moved across California by HARDCAR, “Running missions with a purpose of providing safe medicine and knowing that our training and experience can still be put to use in civilian world gives us a sense of purpose again.”

The Everyday Realities of PTSD

Some days Augustis would find himself literally immobilized in fear. He’d be thinking of where he had been serving in Iraq, how dangerous the situations were that he had been in, and the fact that he nearly escaped death too many times. These thoughts replayed over and over in his mind to the point that he couldn’t work, and ended up dropping out of the program he’d enrolled in at a community college.

Augustis’ story isn’t uncommon. Thousands of veterans are returning home with the difficulty of having to reintegrate into the professional world while struggling with symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). “My bottled-up emotions that I had suppressed in Iraq began to burst out,” Augustus recalls about the time in his life he just couldn’t seem to cope enough to focus on rebuilding his life after combat. Desperate to bring stability back into his life, he looked to medicinal cannabis in his home state of California.

Finding Hope In Cannabis

“By using cannabis, I was able to slow things down in my mind and be more present and stable,” says Augustis, who is now meaningfully contracted within the cannabis industry in California. “I have first-hand experience when dealing with combat-related PTSD and know how cannabis helps. To deprive others of medical cannabis who are experiencing PTSD symptoms is not morally right.”
Now able to cope with the symptoms of his PTSD, Augustis has become a critical link for access to cannabis for veterans. Augustis enjoys a role as Veterans’ Services Liaison with HARDCAR Security, a company providing advanced safety, transportation, and security services to the cannabis industry.

“HARDCAR gives us that opportunity to serve our nation again by providing safe and reliable access to medical cannabis,” says Augustis.

“It’s the right thing to do,” Kleperis states when asked why HARDCAR focuses on veterans’ employment, “We like their attitude. Our employees are happy and are doing something they love. What else matters?”


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