University of California, Irvine is developing one of the first interdisciplinary cannabis research institutes.
Another research center strictly focused on studying cannabis could soon be coming to California. The University of California, Irvine is in the midst of developing an interdisciplinary research center that will investigate cannabis, including its medicinal potential and impacts on the environment, business and culture.
The institute is the idea of Irvine professor and cannabis researcher, Dr. Daniele Piomelli. He hopes to have the center operational within a year’s time.
“My plan is not to waste any time,” Piomelli told the Orange County Register.
Piomelli is partnering with Joe Dunn, former Democratic State Senator and now a lecturer at UC Irvine’s School of Law. Dunn announced plans for the center at a university roundtable event featuring Rep. Dana Rohrabacher earlier this month. The UC Irvine School of Law has agreed to head up the development of the institute.
Piomelli and Dunn are in the process of creating an advisory board, and have already been in talks with the university’s other programs. So far, the schools’ business, engineering, communications, UCI Applied Innovation, and film studies programs have shown interest in getting involved.
While university funds are potentially available for the center, Piomelli hopes to get funding from the state through Proposition 64, the recreational marijuana measure approved by California voters last November. The proposition included a provision that calls for a portion of marijuana tax revenue to be used for research purposes.
Down the coast, UC San Diego launched the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research in 2000, and the center receives state funding to specifically investigate the potential therapeutic properties of cannabis. The center is currently studying vaporized cannabis’ effects on lower back pain and the effects of cannabis on driving performance.
UC Irvine’s institute would be interdisciplinary, so rather than focus strictly on marijuana’s potential medicinal benefits, it will additionally examine how cannabis impacts other facets of life. Humboldt State University and Colorado State University Pueblo have each launched similar interdisciplinary cannabis research institutes.
Earlier this year, UC Davis and Sonoma State University announced they would be offering cannabis-related college sources.
Studying cannabis continues to be challenging due to its federal classification as a Schedule I substance. The status creates additional financial and logistical hurdles for researchers, who must obtain research registration from the DEA and cannabis material from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The obstacles have hindered the volume of human clinical research, limiting the collection of data. Piomelli told the OC Register that he regularly receives emails from parents asking about medical marijuana’s efficacy for severe pediatric disorders, but is unable to provide guidance.
“Emotions are wonderful,” Piomelli said. “But we need data. We need evidence-based answers.”
Despite the legislative obstacles, there have been groundbreaking studies on cannabis. You can learn about the findings of those studies and other information about cannabis by visiting our education page. Keep up with the cannabis industry through our news feed.