More than a decade after voters here first said marijuana could be medicine, Colorado is preparing to embark on the largest state-funded effort to study the medical benefits of cannabis.
Under a bill signed this year by Gov. John Hickenlooper, the state health department will give out about $9 million in grants in the next five years to researchers for marijuana studies. Most importantly, the research is expected to include clinical trials on the kinds of marijuana products actually being used in Colorado — something that federally funded studies on marijuana have lacked.
“Our intent is to be rigorous scientifically, but to also act with some expediency because these are products that a large percentage of our population is using today,” said Dr. Larry Wolk, the executive director and chief medical officer of the health department. “We want to make sure that what’s happening out there in everyday practice isn’t harming people.”