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Former UA professor looks for new place to conduct research

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Z Saenz/SBS Tech/UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences | The Daily Wildcat

After Dr. Sue Sisley was informed that her contract with the UA would not be renewed, she has been looking at other institutions to continue her research on marijuana. Sisley had been researching the effects of marijuana on treating PTSD.

A former UA professor, who was recently fired with allegations that her research on marijuana was illegal, is looking to conduct her research regarding marijuana use as a treatment for PTSD elsewhere.

Dr. Sue Sisley was told over the summer that her contract with the UA was not going to be renewed, and as her time comes to an end, she said she is trying to decide where she will take her research.

“The U of A was implying they could take the research themselves and do it without me,” Sisley said. “They realized they can’t do that. It’s my research; it’s owned by me and my sponsor. My sponsor and myself will be taking the study to a more welcoming environment where we can conduct the research without the suppression we experienced at the University of Arizona.”

Sisley said some of this suppression included the university’s claim that her study was illegal, and that it proceeded to force her to get a bill passed so she could conduct her research on campus.

“They’ve done everything they can to impede this study at every turn,” she said. “We are so heartened because of the firing becoming a national news story. It has caused a tremendous amount of sympathy from courageous and very prestigious universities all over the country.”

According to Sisley, many universities have extended invitations for her and her study to be performed at their institutions. Sisley said she and her sponsor will announce where they decide to take their research by the end of the year. She also said they are looking into institutions in Arizona who have extended offers.

“We are trying to find the best home long term, and we are really trying to find a sanctuary for this research,” Sisley added.

Ricardo Pereyda, a UA alumnus and a veteran, is behind the change.org petition for Sisley’s reinstatement at the UA, which had over 100,000 signatures as of Tuesday morning.

“It’s not looking so good for its chances of remaining in Arizona,” Pereyda said. “I would have liked to see it conducted at University of Arizona, where it should have been conducted. It is disappointing to me as a veteran and an alumni of the school and as someone who knows the research the university is capable of.”

Pereyda said that although the UA is preferential, he just wants the study to be conducted.

However, Pereyda also said that the UA is claiming it wants to conduct this research with its own principal investigator.

“I want to encourage [the] UA to put their money where their mouth is and to see what kind of research they can come up with,” he said. “I want them to go through the same process that Sisley and [her sponsor] MAPS had to go through. The more research on this we have, the better. The bottom line is [that] there is nothing stopping them from doing it. There is the very real possibility for them to do the right thing and do their own research and show just how vet-friendly they are.”

Chris Sigurdson, senior associate vice president of University Relations at the UA, said the university was committed to continuing the research. According to Sigurdson, the university contacted the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies and offered to host the project in Tucson, but MAPS declined.

“The UA has been open throughout about our desire to continue the research with MAPS, but it is not possible without them,” Sigurdson said.

Sisley said she believes that although she would like to find a home in Arizona for her research, it won’t be possible because the UA administration has convinced other Arizona university administrations that her research is not acceptable. Sisley added she also believes that the politics behind this controversy will not permit her to find a permanent home within the state.

“You would think, doing marijuana research, the only obstacles are federal obstacles, but that’s not true,” she said. “The obstacles at the local level are immense and many people believe that this research simply can not be done in Arizona.”

—Follow Ariella Noth @sheba201


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