[OPINION] Colorado needs cannabis cash

SisleyBy Sue Sisley, M.D. | Special to The Cannabist

Two weeks ago, the Colorado Board of Health awarded grants totaling $8 million to research marijuana’s medical potential. The studies funded by these grants will help evaluate marijuana’s safety and efficacy in treating epilepsy, brain tumors, Parkinson’s disease and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The money is coming from Colorado’s medical marijuana patient fees and new taxes on recreational pot.

Under the umbrella of non-profit Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (whose founder Rick Doblin helped me with this column), I am one of the two investigators funded by the Board of Health to test marijuana on veterans with PTSD. Our allotment of Colorado’s funding: $2 million.

I was thrilled on behalf of patients suffering from all of those diseases because we need more research to evaluate the risks and benefits of marijuana — not just the risks. Only when marijuana is approved by the FDA as a prescription medicine will insurance companies pay for medical marijuana, a major benefit to patients.

On the day of the Board of Health meeting, a group of medical marijuana patients announced a lawsuit challenging Colorado’s funding of marijuana research. They claimed that Colorado’s medical marijuana law required excess cash to be refunded to patients who paid the fees, not diverted to scientific research. They were joined in their opposition by a number of activists who gathered to protest government funding for marijuana research.

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