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  • Writer's pictureAngie Roullier

Dr. Sue Sisley

Updated: Mar 8


Our newfound industry has some true warriors that are using their passion, intelligence, and backbones to force our country to play fair when it comes to researching this plant.

Dr. Sue Sisley is one of these brawlers.

Sue (as she prefers to be called) is an internal medicine physician from Arizona and the president of Scottsdale Research Institute. She has several accomplished milestones, such as ethical research, serving as a volunteer cannabis medical director for over 40 state operating licenses, and has continuously fought for realistic quality cannabis samples to conduct clinical trials. She serves as the Principal Investigator for the only FDA-approved randomized controlled trial in the world! In this trial, she is looking at the safety and efficiency of inhaled cannabis flower in relationship to combat veterans and PTSD.[1]

However, these accomplishments (and many more) did not come lightly to Sue. Anytime someone takes on the beast that is medical research in this country, they’re bound to take the consequences on the chin.

In 2014, Sue received approval from the NIDA (National Institutes of Drug Addiction) to study the potential efficiency between cannabis and PTSD (among vets) at the University of Arizona. She was then abruptly fired for it. All before getting a $2 million grant from the state of Colorado to study this relationship.[2]

Evidentially, she couldn’t catch a break, as she was dropped like a hot potato by another corporate oaf, Bank of America.

“Bank of America closes down account of Federally licensed cannabis researcher,” Sisley wrote. “SRI conducts FDA approved controlled trials evaluating cannabis as medicine for treating pain/PTSD in military veterans & terminally ill patients this TRAGICALLY shuts down our research.”[3]

Even though the bank had issued her a letter, it did not give her any reasons, only that the choice to shut down the account was reached “after a careful review of your banking relationship.”  So, even thought she had been banking with them for 10 years because they were a federally ok’d “plant-touching” organization, she and her research were left swinging in the wind. The letter ended with “this decision is final and won’t be reconsidered,”

Nice, huh?[4]

I was lucky enough to see Sue speak at a symposium in Ann Arbor a few years back. She presented pictures of what the only government sourced “product” looked like that she was expected to run her trial with. Let me tell you that it was the seedy, stemmy oregano from the days of acid washed jeans and Aqua Net. As her research is based on realistic cannabis access for medical reasons, she knew this garbage was unacceptable.

There are those that will only push things to the outer limits when they have nothing left to lose. Sue is not these people. Hell-bent and risking more than we can ever know, she kept pushing forward.

Only a few years ago, the University of Mississippi was the only ones federally approved and licensed to grow cannabis for medical research in the U.S.

Since Sue is not one to just sit back and only take what is given to her (especially if it wasn’t what she needed), she fought back. She sued the DEA in 2019 after getting the cold shoulder regarding her 2016 submitted application to “grow her own” marijuana for medical research purposes, due to the current poor quality of the plant available.

In true conquering fashion, Sue succeeded in landing a DEA Schedule I bulk manufacturer license. This victory of historical proportions not only ended the 52-year government monopoly on cannabis research, but now paves future roads for the private sector to grow cannabis flower for FDA-approved clinical trials.[5]

Sue knows that the access to cannabis for vets is at the local pot shop. You will not find Big Pharma copies or their intake methods in these places. So, you have to test what people will have the most access to. Sue also knows that setting the whole plant on fire is still the most common way to consume cannabis. Our industry is truly lucky to have such an intelligent and courageous lady fighting for cannabis. Fighting for us.[6]

[1] [2] [3] RELATED: Cannabis Conference 2021 Keynote: 'Sue ‘n The DEA: The Story of a Cannabis Research Breakthrough' [4] [5] [6]


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