Sunday, January 24, 2016

CSU Pueblo contemplates cannabis research institute

Jessi Mitchell

Class is back in session at CSU Pueblo, and a proposed cannabis research institute is the talk of campus.
University administrators say the institute is still in the planning stages, but it will be the first school of its kind to examine every aspect of cannabis, from hemp to medical and recreational marijuana. There are still some legal hurdles to jump, however.
In the Pueblo sunshine, the cannabis plant is flourishing, and the CSU Pueblo administration is eager to get a closer look at how it affects the brain at various stages of life, how chemicals beyond THC can be used, and how the plant impacts different people in different ways.
"A lot of these issues are very complicated, and what better institution to be helping study those than a university?" asks provost Rick Kreminski.
The school plans to host conferences for professors and students to share their findings, along with publishing a journal. With the explosion of the marijuana industry across southern Colorado, researchers will be able to conduct case studies in their own community.
Students on campus are mostly on board with the idea, enthused about the opportunity to learn more about the plant. Sophomore Julius Agbeke says, "Weed's been legalized, so it would be nice to start doing research about it, see what we can do. Maybe we can make money off of it, our campus over here, so it would be a pretty cool opportunity."
Others are worried that marijuana's legal status on the national level could cause funding problems for the university, which recently had some budget and staffing cuts. Joshua Redmond, a senior, says, "I'm concerned about the federal budget and the amount of money our school receives from the federal government, so I'm more concerned with whether or not they'll be able to keep a steady budget."
The feds do allow hemp research already, and observatory studies of marijuana with volunteers. Kreminski says, "If veterans, chemo patients are self-reporting that they are using marijuana in that case, you can do those studies and there's no federal issues there."
The university plans to get some of the research funding from grants and Pueblo's city and county governments, but administrators emphasize that everything will be conducted within federal regulations.
"Everyone seems to be very excited about the possibilities," says Kreminski. "We have a lot of support from local legislators and we'll just have to see where things go."
Administrators have not set a timeline for the start of the cannabis research institute yet, but professors are actively working on their ideas for research.

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