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Colorado Health Department Is Giving $2.4M to Study Marijuana

Using tax revenue from adult use marijuana sales, the Colorado Health Department will fund a collection of studies examining the effects of legalization.

A portion of Colorado tax revenue from marijuana sales will be used to study the effects of legalizing marijuana, the Denver Post reports.

The Colorado Health Department is currently accepting grant applications for its Retail Marijuana Health Monitoring Program. The department has $2.4 million to put toward the studies.

The new grants, which are funded by the state’s adult use marijuana measure, will be specifically used to examine the public health effects of legalization. Adult use marijuana has been legal in Colorado since voters passed Amendment 64 in 2012.

“The purpose and intent of this grant program is to fund scientific research that will address selected priority research gaps identified by the [Retail Marijuana Public Health Advisory Committee] regarding the general health effects of marijuana use in Colorado’s population,” the grant’s application reads.

Colorado had previously used $9 million of the state’s cannabis market revenue to fund 10 to 15 clinical trials on the medical benefits of cannabis. The money came from registration fees paid by medical marijuana patients.

Under the state’s Retail Marijuana Health Monitoring Program, the health department has the responsibility to monitor substance use patterns and health effects associated with legalization. A 13-member Retail Marijuana Public Health Advisory Committee regularly reviews scientific literature on the general and Colorado-specific health outcomes of cannabis use. Their “Literature Review on Marijuana Use and Health Effects” report from January 2015 has been made available to the public for review.

In this round of grants, the health department is particular interested in funding studies that examine the health effects of marijuana use on pregnant women and their child, the factors that contribute to teen use, the effects of products with higher THC potency, and the difference in health outcomes between heavy and infrequent marijuana users.

Other priority research areas the department has identified include examining use and risk factors in the LGBT population, assessing driving impairment following use of high potency products, and marijuana use’s relationship to a reduction in opioid dependence.

Two types of grants will be awarded in this new round. For longer-term studies that “involve extensive primary data collection using observational study designs,” full research grants will be funded up to $300,000 per year for three years. Shorter-duration pilot studies that “can provide important public health data will be funded up to $100,000 per year for two years.

Researchers interested in applying for the grant must not be associated with for-profit entities and must have “a demonstrated record of successful grant-funded research or data analysis.” Governmental agencies are allowed to apply. Preliminary applications are due July 22. Researchers whose ideas for study will then need to submit full applications by September 30. The awarded parties will be announced in November.

You can find more information on the grants on the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment website.