A recent change in Connecticut’s medical marijuana law encourages and makes it easier for researchers within the state to conduct studies on cannabis.
With the passing of a recent medical marijuana initiative, Connecticut is encouraging its hospitals, healthcare facilities, universities and marijuana producers to do more research into cannabis’ medicinal properties. The state is aiming to become a medical cannabis research hub, which state officials believe will strengthen the state’s biotechnology industry.
The Department of Consumer Protection, which oversees the state’s medical marijuana program, said in a news release that, with the introduction of research positions, the number of people employed in Connecticut’s medical marijuana industry, which is now at 259, “could increase significantly.”
“The state’s medical marijuana program is not only providing patients suffering from serious diseases, and their doctors, an alternative treatment option, it’s creating good jobs in the state,” Jonathan Harris, commissioner of the Department of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. “With this new research program, Connecticut could become the focal point for medical cannabis research and add to the strong bio-tech base already here.”
Connecticut’s Department of Consumer Protection began accepting research proposals October 1. An institutional review board will vet each proposal, and despite cannabis still being considered federally illegal, participants will be protected under the state’s medical marijuana law.
Because the U.S. government still classifies cannabis as a Schedule I drug, researchers are faced with several hurdles. In most cases, they must acquire a Schedule I research license. Additionally, the Drug Enforcement Administration regulates the cultivation of cannabis for scientific studies and until August had allowed only the University of Mississippi to grow marijuana for research.
Connecticut’s new law classifies marijuana as a Schedule II drug, a category reserved for substances that have some medical value, but that may carry a potential for abuse and, therefore, have to be dispensed under the supervision of a qualified pharmacist. The state’s reclassification removes many of the obstacles for researchers.
“This is the first formal program that we know of that will provide the protections and the framework to be able to use the standardized product in Connecticut to produce meaningful research,” Harris told the New Haven Register.
Despite having to regularly jump hurdles, researchers have already made some groundbreaking discoveries regarding cannabis’s therapeutic properties. Studies indicate that medical marijuana has anti-cancer effects, can slow the progression of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, and helps reduce seizures, spasms, pain and nausea.
Connecticut’s Department of Consumer Protection has suggested several topics for researchers to consider, including the growth or processing of medical marijuana, dosage forms, and the substance’s attributes and its effects on diseases and symptoms.
“We are excited to have serious research take place in Connecticut and look forward to approving any proposal that meets our requirements,” Department of Consumer Protections’ Deputy Commissioner Michelle Seagull said.
Connecticut is one of 25 states that have passed medical marijuana laws. Gov. Dannel Malloy signed HB 5389 to legalize medical marijuana in Connecticut in 2012. As of October 9, the state has four growers, eight dispensaries, and 13,618 patients registered with the program.
More information about submitting a research proposal can be found on the Department of Consumer Protection’s website. Learn more about the groundbreaking discoveries on cannabis’ therapeutic properties by visiting our education page.