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CSU-Pueblo Given $1.2M to Study Medical Marijuana

A new research institute focused on cannabis’s therapeutic and social effects is coming to Colorado State University-Pueblo after the university secured over a million in funding.

Colorado State University-Pueblo has acquired $1.2 million in funding to establish a medical marijuana research institute, The Gazette is reporting. The university’s new research institute will focus on medical cannabis’ therapeutic effects and the social and economic impacts of legalizing adult use marijuana.

The school will receive $900,000 from the Marijuana Research Marijuana Tax Cash Fund (Senate Bill 16-191), which Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law in June.

The remaining $270,000 of funding will come from state marijuana excise tax revenue. The Pueblo County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to allocate $220,000 for research on medical marijuana and $50,000 to study the social impact of adult use legalization.

“There’s been a real dearth of research on cannabis in general in the last 50 years,” said Commissioner Sal Pace. “Anecdotally, there’s a lot of evidence that there are real medical conditions that can be helped by cannabis, such as glaucoma, Crohn’s disease and epilepsy.”

The prospective research topics the institute will explore include the cultivation of hemp crops, the economic impact of legalization, and the anti-seizure effects of cannabis, says The Gazette. Additionally, the money will be used to establish a peer-reviewed journal.

“We want to find out whether there are positive or negative impacts (of marijuana use) in terms of medical breakthroughs,” said CSU-Pueblo President Lesley Di Mare. “We also want to understand what sort of impact marijuana has on communities where it is legal.”

With the institute, CSU-Pueblo becomes the first four-year, regional comprehensive university to extensively study cannabis.

“The research is going to be very beneficial and going to be able to be used nationwide,” said state Rep. Clarice Navarro, co-sponsor of SB 16-191.

“These studies not only have local interest but statewide and federal interest,” said CSU-Pueblo Provost Rick Kreminski. “[Cannabis] is an area that has been understudied, and I am appreciative of the taxpayers’ decision to use marijuana tax revenue for this purpose.”

The institute will be initially staffed with four to five faculty members from CSU-Pueblo. The faculty members will come from various disciplines, including business, chemistry, biology, and psychology. Additionally, people with doctorates will come to the school to conduct research and manage the labs, says The Pueblo Chieftain.

“Students will learn a lot of clinical work. They will learn how to work with really sophisticated equipment and do a lot of sophisticated imaging,” Kreminski said.

Commissioner Pace believes the university’s research will provide the state with an exciting economic opportunity.

“In the cannabis industry, I think the lowest rung of economic opportunity lies in the store fronts and retail sales. On the next rung is cultivation because it’s a job creator and it’s generating money for the community through exports and taxes. The third rung is the intellectual property that could come out of these studies. I see this type of bio-medical research as the top rung of economic opportunities that have ever been a reality for Pueblo,” Commissioner Pace said in a statement. “A patent could make this community and the state a lot of money.”

The university had vocalized a request for state marijuana tax revenue to fund its research facility in January. With Colorado being one of four states to legalize adult use marijuana, professors were interested in learning and proving more information about cannabis.

“We thought it would be wise to put together an institute to do research and [teach] students on medical cannabis,” Di Mare told KRDO.com back in January.