He’s one of the growing number of veterans who say medical marijuana is helping treat PTSD symptoms — and is a less addictive alternative to opioids.
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Roughly 20 veterans commit suicide every day, according to a study by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Near Phoenix, Dr. Sue Sisley is now running the first FDA-approved clinical trial of its kind to see whether marijuana is effective in treating PTSD.
“I think we're desperately seeking new treatments for PTSD,” she said. "Our hypothesis is that we believe cannabis will reduce the severity of the PTSD symptoms. But we don't know that … it needs to be tested.”
The trial, funded by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and sponsored by California-based MAPS, an organization that promotes research into psychedelic drugs for medical benefit, is looking at the safety and efficacy of four strains of smoked marijuana to manage treatment-resistant PTSD symptoms in military veterans.
“What might feel good in the short term is not necessarily good in the long term,” said Kevin Sabet with Smart Approaches to Marijuana. “And rather than look at anecdote and stories, let's look at the overall picture of where this might lead in the future.”
Pickering just wants more research to be done.
"These men and women went out there [and] put their lives on the line,” he said. “And they're coming back from a war and they're fighting a new war here in America. And that war is a suicide and the opioid epidemic that we're essentially fighting within ourselves."
Gabe Gutierrez is an NBC News Correspondent based in New York. He reports for all platforms of NBC News, including "TODAY," “NBC Nightly News," MSNBC and NBCNews.com.