Arizona Professor Fired for Examining Effects of Medicinal Marijuana
Although medical marijuana is gaining momentum across the nation, there are still those that hold onto old ideals and belief systems and don’t want to see the progression of this substance used for medicine. The University of Arizona recently fired prominent marijuana researcher, Suzanne A. Sisley, who was working on examining the effects marijuana had on people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Sisley’s termination came quickly and unexpectedly and has set back the research she had been so diligently working on.
Sisley, who until recently was a clinical assistant psychiatry professor at the University of Arizona, had only months ago received approval from the federal government to conduct her research. This came as a welcomed surprise as medical marijuana researchers have long been met with hostility from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Her recent dismissal has medical marijuana advocates outraged as the research she was conducting is now in danger of being cancelled altogether. University officials have declined to comment on the exact reasons for Sisley’s termination, but are believed to have objected to what she believed in.
The former professor claims she was fired after her research, as well as for her personal political movements that supported medical marijuana research and legalization. Sisley believes that being fired was a “clear political retaliation for the advocacy and education provided to the public and lawmakers.” The letter she recently received from the University of Arizona that informed her that her position would not be renewed in the fall provided no explanation for her termination. All that was cited in this letter were guidelines that outlined the permission of university officials to end its relationship with contract employees. University of Arizona dean, Stuart Flynn, did go on to add in a personal email to Sisley that the decision was final and would not be up for further administrative review.
Sisley had configured a study that involved veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder to receive treatment with marijuana at an observation facility on the campus of the University of Arizona. She had gotten approval to use state funds from income that was collected at medical marijuana dispensaries, but the money was blocked by a dominant Arizona Republican senator. Recall efforts proved to be unsuccessful and those who supported Sisley became outraged and went into political retaliation. Sisley, who did not support the recall, was ordered to draft a statement by university officials that outlined her political activism.
Although spokesman for the University of Arizona, Chris Sigurdson stated that the university “received no political pressure to terminate any employee”, it is plain to see that Sisley’s sudden dismissal is a direct result from her activism and involvement relating to medical marijuana. The only way Sisley can pursue her research is by taking on a position at another university, and this is something she believes isn’t likely to happen. Without the support of lawmakers, she is leery that any university would take her on. This has all greatly set back her study, which isn’t even likely to continue unless she is hired on somewhere else. If she does get another position, the efforts she has already made will be pushed back at least a couple of years.
The loss of Sisley’s university position, and the motives behind it, have supporters of medical marijuana outraged. This is a serious step back in the advancement of medical marijuana policy that have been transpiring across the nation. With the scientific evidence that has proven medical marijuana to be a safe and effective means to treat many different medical conditions, what happened with Sisley is an example of misguided politicians who are struggling to maintain old standards. Top officials at the American Civil Liberties Union are looking for options that will dispute Sisley’s termination. Also looking to fight for Sisley’s rights is the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), whose president, Rick Doblin, says that what happened with Sisley was “the repression of science for political purposes.”
With all the studies and conclusive evidence in favor of marijuana for medicine, for something to happen such as Sisley’s dismissal, should be unheard of. It is unfortunate to see, with all the hurdles medical marijuana has overcome, that a professional advocate would lose their career. Further upsetting is how many people will miss out on the benefits Sisley’s research would have provided. The fight for the cessation of the repression of medical marijuana does not look like it will be over anytime soon. Thankfully, there are those willing to stand and retaliate against those that refuse to conform to new standards.