In an effort to bridge the gap between science and politics, Colorado has just approved the largest ever state-funded grant allocating $9 million towards medical marijuana research. The grant money is planned to be dispersed over the next five years and will be used to conduct clinical trials that will provide further indisputable scientific evidence of the medicinal properties of cannabis. This research will build on published studies conducted over a 12-year period by California’s Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research that confirmed that cannabis or its isolated components could effectively be used in managing pain, nausea, inflammation and a host of other ailments.
The Colorado Department of Health and Environment, headed by Executive Director and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Larry Wolk, will begin accepting grant applications this year with tentative plans to start funding about 10 to 15 studies as early as the beginning of 2015. An oversight committee is currently being assembled to act as a scientific advisory council that will evaluate research proposals, approve grant studies and ensure against biased results whether positive or negative. The committee will include a medical toxicologist, a psychiatrist, a neurologist, a pediatrician and other specialized clinicians.
In an interview with the Denver Post, Dr. Wolk said, “Our intent is to be rigorous scientifically, but to also act with some expediency because these are products that a large percentage of our population is using today. We want to make sure that what’s happening out there in everyday practice isn’t harming people.”
Governor John Hickenlooper signed the bill allocating the grant money in May with the hope that it will benefit the more than 100,000 Coloradans engaging in the use of marijuana for its medical benefits. The grant program will go into effect on July 1 of this year and will be funded by the cost of registration fees paid by medical marijuana patients.
Through the results of the research, new debilitating conditions will be added to the medical marijuana law and provide scientific information to aid physicians in improving their understanding of the biochemical effects of medical marijuana on their patients. Other states will also have access to this information to refer to in defense of eliminating prohibition in the future.
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