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Hiring: Colorado to pay hefty salary for doctor to study marijuana issues

Colorado health officials want to hire somebody to keep an eye on marijuana legalization — at potentially one of the highest salaries in state government.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is currently advertising a position for a “marijuana health effects and research manager.” The job will involve monitoring the health consequences of legalization; gathering data from hospitals, emergency rooms and poison control centers; and helping to lead an advisory committee that produces a report on legalization’s outcomes.

The position could also oversee research grants on the health impacts of recreational marijuana sales. The state legislature has designated nearly $350,000 for the grants in the budget currently awaiting Gov. John Hickenlooper’s signature.

The position had previously been staffed by an epidemiologist, someone who has expertise in analyzing health patterns. But Health Department officials this time around wanted to put a doctor in the position. The job qualifications require both a medical degree and a master’s degree in public health or equivalent experience.

“It’s just a better fit,” said Mike Van Dyke, the department’s chief of environmental epidemiology, occupational health and toxicology. “It allows us to really have those physician to physician conversations, which are important.”

That change, though, could boost the position’s annual salary over $200,000 per year. CDPHE lists the job’s salary range as $137,172 per year to $215,124 per year. Van Dyke said the lower end is the minimum rate for physicians who work in Colorado government.

The upper end would make the job the fourth-highest paying job in Colorado state government, excluding the salaries of university employees. Only the state commissioner of education, the executive director of CDPHE and a physician in the Department of Corrections made more last year, according to salary information provided to The Denver Post through a records request.

Van Dyke said CDPHE will likely hire someone on the lower end of the range. In the 2013-14 fiscal year, more than 1,700 people working in Colorado state government made more than $100,000 per year, The Colorado Springs Gazette reported.

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

This story was first published on DenverPost.com