Re­searchers get mil­lions to study pot le­gal­iza­tion

Most of the $2.35M will probe mar­i­juana’s ef­fects on driv­ing.

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By John In­gold

In a ground­break­ing ef­fort to bet­ter un­der­stand what, ex­actly, hap­pened af­ter vot­ers le­gal­ized recre­ational mar­i­juana in Colorado, the state’s Health Depart­ment on Tues­day an­nounced $2.35 mil­lion in grants to re­searchers who will help an­swer that ques­tion.

Most of the money — $1.68 mil­lion — will go to­ward two stud­ies that look at the im­pacts of mar­i­juana use on driv­ing. The first will com­pare driv­ing im­pair­ment for heavy mar­i­juana con­sumers ver­sus oc­ca­sional con­sumers. The other will study dab­bing — the smok­ing of highly po­tent mar­i­juana ex­tracts — to de­ter­mine its ef­fects on driv­ing and cog­ni­tive func­tion­ing.

Other stud­ies re­ceiv­ing grant fund­ing will look at how long mar­i­juana stays in the breast milk of nurs­ing mothers, the ad­verse ef­fects of ed­i­ble cannabis prod­ucts, the car­dio­vas­cu­lar risks of mar­i­juana use in peo­ple with heart prob­lems, the im­pact of mar­i­juana use on older adults and, lastly, an “anal­y­sis of data from be­fore and af­ter im­ple­men­ta­tion of recre­ational mar­i­juana in Colorado,” by a psy­chol­ogy pro­fes­sor spe­cial­iz­ing in ad­dic­tion coun­sel­ing at Colorado State Univer­sity.

“This re­search will be in­valu­able in Colorado and across the coun­try,” Dr. Larry Wolk, the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Colorado Depart­ment of Pub­lic Health and En­vi­ron­ment, said in a state­ment. “The find­ings will in­form our pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion ef­forts and give peo­ple ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion they need to make de­ci­sions about mar­i­juana use.”

The Health Depart­ment pre­vi­ously spent $9 mil­lion as part of a his­toric ef­fort to fund the study of med­i­cal mar­i­juana by a state gov­ern­ment. Those re­search projects are still on­go­ing.

Ear­lier this year, the state leg­is­la­ture ap­proved fund­ing for the new grants to study recre­ational mar­i­juana. The Health Depart­ment re­ceived 58 pre­lim­i­nary ap­pli­ca­tions, which were win­nowed to a pool of 16 from which the fi­nal seven re­cip­i­ents were selected.

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