For years now the one missing aspect in medical marijuana has definitely been the lack of scientific research that’s actually been done on the plant and its capabilities to treat certain illnesses. The number one reason for this is definitely that the federal government has cannabis categorized as a schedule one drug, which means that it has absolutely no medical benefits and isn’t eligible for scientific studies. The DEA has promised to give their decision on rescheduling cannabis in the first half of 2016, but for some reason they’ve been majorly dragging their feet. In the meantime some states have taken it upon themselves to fund the necessary research into the effects of cannabis, despite the threats from the federal government. Colorado specifically has shelled out tons of money as a state for research grants and this year isn’t any different. In fact, there is currently $2.4 million available in funds to be applied for.
The organization footing the bill is the Colorado Health Department. They are offering major grants for studies about marijuana use. It’s been almost a month since they’ve started accepting applications and the deadline is due tomorrow, so if you’re a researcher interested in applying you’ve probably missed this round of applications. The department was specifically looking for applications for their Retail Marijuana Health Monitoring Program. This is just one of many attempts to motivate researchers that this department has made in recent years. All of the money is generated through marijuana sales taxes and aims to paint a clearer picture of the health effects cannabis is causing in the state post legalization. Of course this is a bit of a risk for the department since the federal government technically has the ability to shut down any of these studies if they decided to. Based on the relationship between Colrado and the federal government in the last couple years, I think it is fairly safe to say that won’t actually happen.
The department isn’t just accepting any old applicant, however. The rules of the grant stipulate that the applying researcher must have a record of successful research or data analysis that was funded by a grant. This does open it up a bit, because in the past they typically only awarded these grants to scientists that were linked to universities or hospitals. The researchers are still required to be non profit. Some topics of interest that the department are hoping to focus on are things like the factors that affect a teen’s choice to use cannabis, differences in health between heavy and less frequent users, and the effects on the child and mother when cannabis is used during pregnancy. Some grants will provide up to $300,000 a year for three years, which is some serious coin. Hopefully the money keeps pouring in and we can finally hammer out exactly how helpful this plant can really be in the world of medicine within the next few years.