State to spend $9M on marijuana study grants

DENVER – The state of Colorado will spend as much as $9.4 million to research marijuana and hemp for medical treatment under a bill signed into law Wednesday by Gov. John Hickenlooper.

The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, and state Reps. Jenise May, D-Aurora, and Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, funds a scientific research grant program administered by the State Board of Health. Funding will be distributed in grants over the next five years.

The research is expected to help determine if additional medical conditions should be added to a list of eight conditions – cancer, glaucoma, HIV or AIDS, weight loss, muscle spasms, seizures and nausea – that can be legally treated with marijuana in Colorado.

“This grant-funded research is intended to increase knowledge about the effectiveness of medical marijuana and hemp and how it works, so that therapies can be more targeted, properly managed and possibly expanded to benefit more patients,” Steadman said.

Dr. Larry Wolk, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, will appoint members of a scientific advisory council to oversee the program. Wolk also will serve as council chairman.

By January 2016, a report must be given to the health board on the progress of studies and what diseases are being researched, the number of patients enrolled and any scientific findings.

Colorado has stepped in to promote health and safety while the federal government has done little marijuana research, said Mike Elliot, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group.

“The federal government refuses to acknowledge that cannabis has any medical value, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary,” Elliot said.

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