Concern over Colorado’s Medical Marijuana Research Grant Program

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October 27, 2016
Denver, CO

According to a Denver Post story, Colorado is scheduled to begin administering significant funding for the largest ever state-supported medical marijuana research grant program starting in early 2015. It is anticipated that Colorado’s health department will release the program’s official request for applications sometime this week. The state expects to deliver $9 million geared towards research on the medical effects of marijuana. There is, however, skepticism over who will be able to accept funding for the research program due to marijuana’s federally illegal status.

Dr. Larry Wolk
Dr. Larry Wolk

At a recent meeting, several members of the health department questioned whether or not university-based researchers would be able to participate in the research program without first receiving approval from the federal government. Some members fear that the university review boards may disapprove of projects that are seen as being too controversial or as threats to the university’s federal funding, regardless of state-funded approval for the research.

As stated by the health department’s executive director, Dr. Larry Wolk, “It’s going to be a challenge for the applicant.” Although, Dr. Paula Riggs, a council member who is an addiction medicine specialist at the University of Colorado, said researchers can reduce that concern by getting approval from the Drug Enforcement Administration, but such approval typically takes a long time. “You can do it,” she said, “but you have to jump through hoops.”

[MPP emphasis added]

With the Governor of Colorado signing a law allowing the state to fund up to $10 million for research into the medical benefits of marijuana, the state has demonstrated its ability to jump through the federal government’s “hoops.” What remains now is the issue of eliminating the obstacles brought upon by the federal government in giving researchers the opportunity to investigate the benefits medical marijuana.

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