Colorado grants available to study effectiveness of marijuana as medicine

September 4, 2014 Updated: September 4, 2014 at 7:15 am
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photo - Jesse Stanley, one of six brothers who have pioneered the use of medical cannabis for pediatric use to treat seizures, holds up Mia Halabi's first dose Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at the brothers' Denver laboratory.  Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette
Jesse Stanley, one of six brothers who have pioneered the use of medical cannabis for pediatric use to treat seizures, holds up Mia Halabi's first dose Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at the brothers' Denver laboratory. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette 

Researchers can start applying for millions of dollars in state-funded grants aimed at studying the effectiveness of marijuana as medicine.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment began accepting applications for the grants Wednesday, a milestone marking the first state funding available for medical marijuana research.

Among the possible issues that could be studied are whether certain marijuana-based oils, such as the Charlotte's Web strain produced in Teller County for epileptic children, works as advertised. Or it could press the case for allowing people to obtain a medical marijuana card for conditions that remain off the state's official list, such as post-traumatic stress disorder or Crohn's disease.

All of that will depend on which projects are proposed by researchers, and whether those studies meet program guidelines. So far, state officials have been careful not to ask for studies on any one disease or topic, said Ken Gershman, who manages the grant program.

"We're going to do the best we can and hopefully add to the evidence base," Gershman said.

Lawmakers have allocated $10 million for the research, with 10 percent of that going to administer the program. The money comes from excess fees paid by people who sought medical marijuana cards.

Officials are expected to award six to 10 grants, each averaging $500,000 a year for up to three years, the health department said. None of the grants are allowed to exceed $2 million.

Researchers have until 
Oct. 14 to submit their applications, which will be reviewed by an advisory council charged with making recommendations to the state's Board of Health by Nov. 21. The board will award the grants by Dec. 17.

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Contact Jakob Rodgers: 476-1654

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