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Colorado marijuana research grants: Studies would include epilepsy, PTSD

Colorado health officials have recommended funding two studies on childhood epilepsy, two studies on post-traumatic stress disorder and four other studies as part of the largest-ever state research program on medical marijuana.

The studies — totaling about $7.5 million in cost — would be paid for by a surplus of registration fees paid by medical-marijuana patients. The grants need a final approval by the state Board of Health in December. Research could begin early next year.

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“We hope the studies will contribute to the scientific research available about the use of marijuana in effectively treating various medical conditions,” Larry Wolk, the executive director of the state health department, said in a statement.

Half of the proposed studies focus on the effects of medical-marijuana use by young patients. Two of those studies would examine whether a non-psychoactive component of marijuana called CBD can control seizures in children. Hundreds of families have moved to Colorado seeking CBD for their kids.

Another study would look at using marijuana for inflammatory bowel disease among young patients, and another would look at marijuana for pediatric brain tumors.

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Six of the proposed studies would be conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, but the largest recommended grant would go to doctors at the University of Pennsylvania. That study would cost $2 million and would look at using marijuana to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, in veterans. Another University of Pennsylvania study on PTSD would cost $1.1 million.

While several of the proposed studies would be placebo-controlled, university researchers who hope to handle marijuana as part of their studies would have to get complicated approval from the Drug Enforcement Administration before beginning work. They may also be limited to using only marijuana supplied by the federal government.

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

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This story was first published on DenverPost.com