(Seth McConnell, Denver Post file)

For-profit firms not eligible for Colorado marijuana research grants

For-profit companies will not be eligible to lead ground-breaking state-funded medical marijuana studies, under the terms of the grant program released Wednesday.

In the official request for applications, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment specifies that institutions eligible to apply as primary recipients for the grants include only “not-for profit organizations, health care organizations, governmental entities and higher education institutions.” Applicants do not have to be based in Colorado to apply. For-profit firms will be allowed as subcontractors on grant proposals.

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The roughly $9 million in available grant money represents the largest-ever state-funded effort to study the medical benefits of marijuana. Health department officials hope researchers will be able, for the first time, to conduct clinical or observational trials using the kinds of cannabis products that are available in Colorado’s medical-marijuana system.

“Colorado is a national leader in the development of new strains of marijuana and its component parts that appear to have promising therapeutic effects,” the application request states.

But the restrictions on who can apply for the grants will likely further complicate the research proposals. As the application request notes, organizations — such as universities — that have some level of federal funding or oversight must comply with federal rules for doing research on marijuana. For a clinical trial on humans, that means obtaining five separate approvals, including from the Drug Enforcement Administration.

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Members of the advisory board that will review the grant applications raised concerns about federal complications at a meeting last week.

Most of the application request released Wednesday involves the minute details of how to submit a grant proposal, specifying how documents should be attached (binder clips only) and the font that should be used (12-point Times New Roman). A letter of intent must be filed by Sept. 18, and full applications are due Oct. 14.

John Ingold: 303-954-1068, jingold@denverpost.com or twitter.com/johningold

This story was first published on DenverPost.com