US Military Veterans demand answers from Johns Hopkins in regard to MAPS study of cannabis use in veterans suffering from treatment resistant PTSD
March 27, 2017
Dear President Ronald Daniels,
I write this letter in hope you will offer a public explanation and initiate an independent review of
the circumstances surrounding the termination by Johns Hopkins of their involvement with MAPS
randomized controlled research into Cannabis and its use in veterans suffering from treatment resistant
My name is Sean Kiernan and I write to you as President of the Weed for Warriors Project (WFWP).
WFWP is the largest veteran advocacy group in the world actively trying to raise awareness about
cannabis and its potential use as an alternative to many of the pharmaceuticals championed by not only
the VA, but by almost all research driven hospitals like Johns Hopkins.
I speak not only for WFWP’s wonderful veteran community, but also as a disabled veteran myself, one
who almost became a statistic.
To understand the magnitude of the unfolding national tragedy facing veterans, I want to highlight that
since the FDA approval of MAPS study in 2011, approximately 65,000 veterans have died from suicide
and prescription drug overdoses in this Country. John Hopkins cannot ignore the pragmatic realities that
accompany the University’s termination of their involvement in the aforementioned study.
I think it is important to add, that in the months leading up to terminating your institutions involvement,
hundreds of veterans contacted John Hopkins to inquire about participating in the study. The feedback I
have received is most received no call back and the few who did talk to someone, hardly called the
conversations a dialogue of much substance.
While we can find no official announcement on John Hopkins’ withdrawal from the study, we became
aware of the University’s decision last week as it was placed on the Department of Psychiatry and
Behavioral Science’s voice mail greeting. Think of all the hopeful veterans now being told their hopes
are dashed over voice mail. This hardly seems to be the actions of a prestigious University concerned
with veterans who are easily triggered by the continual systematic stonewalling of their needs.
Given the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the issues outlined above, given the national media
interest and reports we are hearing of significant political interference from the highest levels, we are
asking for your clarification with regard to the following questions:
1) Please explain why Johns Hopkins recently terminated their involvement in the MAPS study.
2) How many veterans had Johns Hopkins vetted and enrolled in the study in the months before the
decision to terminate their involvement?
3) Johns Hopkins received $2 billion for research from the Federal Government in 2015, making it
the largest recipient of Federal monies for the 37th straight year. The Department of Psychiatry
and Behavioral Science, according to their own website, “consistently ranks nationally among the
top departments in psychiatric research funded by the National Institutes of Health.”
a. Did Johns Hopkins or individuals working for Johns Hopkins attempt to suppress negative
information related to the quality of the cannabis provided by NIDA for the study as
written about in the Washington Post and PBS on March 13 and March 8 of 2017?
b. Did Johns Hopkins receive any type of pressure or persuasion from NIDA, or any other
Federal agency as it relates to their involvement with this study?
c. Did the mission of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science; “post-doctoral
training program funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).” create a
systemic conflict of interest and if so, how did the University solve this?
4) What does Johns Hopkins plan to do with the equipment and cannabis obtained and paid for by the
study that will no longer be used?
5) Has Johns Hopkins researched, scheduled to research or received any type of funding related to the
study of synthetic cannabis?
6) Has Johns Hopkins ever conducted research looking at the positive effects of cannabis for any
To quote Johns Hopkins own mission statement: “The mission of Johns Hopkins Medicine is to improve
the health of the community and the world by setting the standard of excellence in medical education,
research and clinical care.”
President Daniels, the proverbial ball now rests in your hands. A transparent accounting of the
circumstances surrounding the issue is of grave importance to the veterans of this Country who risked life
and limb to uphold the very ideals that seem to have been called into question.
To quote John F. Kennedy paraphrasing of Dante’s Inferno, “The hottest places in Hell are reserved for
those who in time of moral crisis preserve their neutrality.”
President Daniels, you have the power and moral imperative to act on this letter without delay. Thank you
for your time and consideration.
Sean T Kiernan, Veteran and
President of The Weed for Warriors Project