Utah’s state-funded study of pot’s ef­fects on pain de­layed

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - NEWS -

A $500,000 state-funded study, de­signed to gauge mar­i­juana’s im­pact on pain, has been de­layed so many times due to fed­eral reg­u­la­tions that it might not be ready be­fore Utah vot­ers de­cide in Novem­ber whether to pass a med­i­cal mar­i­juana bal­lot ini­tia­tive.

Ivy Estabrooke, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Utah Sci­ence Tech­nol­ogy and Re­search, told the De­seret News it took nearly a year and a half for re­searchers to jump through the le­gal hoops nec­es­sary to be­gin the study this sum­mer.

Even if the study’s find­ings are too late to in­flu­ence vot­ers, it can still help the state go­ing for­ward, Estabrooke said.

If Utah vot­ers ap­prove med­i­cal mar­i­juana, the find­ings “will pro­vide in­sight into ef­fi­cacy, and that will help in­di­vid­u­als and doc­tors de­cide whether to use it,” she said.

The study aims to ex­am­ine how cannabis af­fects peo­ple who suf­fer from chronic pain. Sub­jects will re­ceive choco­late pud­ding laced with dif­fer­ent com­bi­na­tions of THC, mar­i­juana’s key psy­choac­tive com­pound, and CBD, its nonpsy­choac­tive in­gre­di­ent, as well as a placebo.

“We’ll have a bet­ter in­formed idea of whether it’s truly help­ing with pain,” Estabrooke said.

Mar­i­juana is le­gal in some form in more than 30 states and the Dis­trict of Columbia, but it re­mains il­le­gal at the fed­eral level.

De­spite in­creas­ing ac­cep­tance, there is lit­tle rig­or­ous re­search on the ben­e­fits and harms of mar­i­juana. Last year, a govern­ment­com­mis­sioned group con­cluded the lack of sci­en­tific in­for­ma­tion about mar­i­juana and CBD poses a risk to pub­lic health.

The bal­lot ini­tia­tive be­fore Utah vot­ers in Novem­ber would cre­ate a reg­u­la­tory sys­tem for grow­ing and dis­tribut­ing mar­i­juana prod­ucts to peo­ple with cer­tain med­i­cal con­di­tions. The law would not al­low peo­ple to smoke mar­i­juana but in­stead limit them to top­i­cal, edi­ble and oil prod­ucts.

Op­po­nents of the ini­tia­tive, in­clud­ing Repub­li­can Gov. Gary Her­bert, say there has not been enough re­li­able re­search into the treat­ment’s ben­e­fits and side ef­fects.

Sup­port­ers have dis­missed those con­cerns.

DJ Schanz, di­rec­tor of the pro-ini­tia­tive Utah Pa­tients Coali­tion cam­paign, said Utah law­mak­ers’ fund­ing of the study was a smoke screen that al­lowed them to pos­ture as if they were con­fronting the is­sue while in fact de­lay­ing ac­tual work.

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