awards $8 million to study medical marijuana uses
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[December 18, 2014]
By Keith Coffman
DENVER (Reuters) - Colorado health
officials awarded $8 million in research grants on Wednesday to study
the use of medical marijuana in the treatment of symptoms associated
with Parkinson's disease, childhood epilepsy and post-traumatic stress
Colorado was one of the first two U.S. states to legalize
recreational pot use, and it is among 23 states and the District of
Columbia that permit use of the drug for medicinal purposes.
But weed remains illegal under federal law for any reason, leading
to a dearth of funding for medical marijuana research, and meaning
results are limited and largely anecdotal.
Awarding eight grants for landmark peer-reviewed studies into an
array of maladies, the Colorado Department of Public Health and
Environment said it sought to provide objective scientific research
on the efficacy of medical marijuana.
"The grant program ... should not be construed as encouraging tor
sanctioning the social or recreational use of marijuana," the
department said in a statement.
Colorado lawmakers set up a Medical Marijuana Scientific Advisory
Council last year and allocated $10 million to administer a program
to conduct the studies. The council received some three dozen
applications, from which it chose the eight approved by the
department on Wednesday.
Funding for the program is derived from taxes imposed on the
state-regulated sale of medical marijuana.
Six of the grants will go to the University of Colorado Anschutz
Medical Campus, said university spokesman Mark Couch.
Researchers there will study whether marijuana in its various forms
can alleviate the tremors associated with Parkinson's and whether it
can provide relief for children with brain tumors or pediatric
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Other projects will research using marijuana to treat irritable
bowel syndrome in adolescents and young adults, and how cannabis
compares with the pain medication Oxycodone.
Teams at the University of Pennsylvania will conduct two separate
studies on whether cannabis is effective in treating patients
suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, including combat
"It's true that little research has been done due to federal
restrictions. I think that will change as more states are
legalizing," said Brian Smith, a spokesman for the Washington State
Liquor Control Board, which oversees legalized recreational cannabis
Voters in Oregon and Alaska cast ballots in November to join
Colorado and Washington in legalizing recreational pot use.
(Reporting by Keith Coffman; Additional reporting by Eric Johnson in
Seatttle; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Cynthia Osterman)
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