Pennsylvania establishes medical marijuana research programs

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The Keystone State has become a hotbed of marijuana research

Three medical schools in Pennsylvania are joining a growing number of universities and other facilities determined to set the record straight on cannabis. In an announcement from June 20, the Pennsylvania Department of Health stated that it had approved new partnerships that will expand cannabis research and added that an additional five partnerships will be approved later this summer.

Drexel University College of Medicine and Agronomed Biologics LLC, Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University and MLH Explorations LLC, and Penn State College of Medicine and PA Options for Wellness are now leading the charge to explore cannabis in Pennsylvania. The new initiatives follow the approval of the Medical Marijuana Act in the state in 2016, of which one of the stipulations was the introduction of high-quality research.

It has taken three years to approve any registrants because previous applicants didn’t meet the state’s criteria. Pennsylvania tossed out all applications last year, asserting that none of the applicants was able to meet its requirements.

Now that the requirements have been met by these particular entities, the research can begin. Dr. Kent Vrana of Penn State College of Medicine’s Department of Pharmacology explains, “We have tons of these stories where someone has a loved one who smoked pot when they had renal cell cancer and ended up being cured, but we have no controlled experiments, so that’s, I think, the game-changer here. [This program] will provide resources to conduct these high-quality, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials, where the pharmacist doesn’t know what’s being given to the patient, the patient doesn’t know what they’re getting, and after two weeks, for instance, they can be evaluated.”