Long-delayed Utah Medical Marijuana Study Might Not Be Ready In Time for Legalization Vote

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A $500,000 state-funded study, designed to gauge marijuana’s effect on pain, has been postponed so many times national regulations that it might not be ready before Utah voters decide in November whether to pass a medical marijuana ballot initiative.

Ivy Estabrooke, executive director of the Utah Science Technology and Research initiative, told the Deseret News it took almost a year and a half for investigators to jump through the legal hoops necessary to start the research this summer.

Even if the study’s findings are too late to influence voters, it can still help the state going forward, Estabrooke stated.

If Utah voters approve medical marijuana, the findings “will offer insight into efficacy, and that will help people and doctors decide whether to use it,” she said.

The study aims to analyze how cannabis affects people who suffer from chronic pain. Subjects will receive chocolate pudding laced with unique combinations of THC, marijuana’s crucial psychoactive chemical, and CBD, its non-psychoactive cannabinoid, as well as a placebo.

“We’ll have a better informed idea of whether it’s really helping with pain,” Estabrooke stated.

Marijuana is legal in some form in over 30 states and the District of Columbia, but it remains illegal at the federal level.

Despite increasing acceptance, there’s little rigorous research on the benefits and harms of marijuana. In 2017, a government-commissioned group concluded the absence of scientific information about marijuana and CBD poses a risk to public health.

The ballot initiative before Utah voters in November 2018 would create a regulatory system for growing and distributing marijuana products to people with certain medical problems. The law wouldn’t allow people to smoke marijuana but instead limit them to topical, edible, and oil products.

Opponents of the initiative, including Republican Gov. Gary Herbert, say there has not been enough reliable research into the treatment’s benefits and side effects.

Supporters have dismissed those concerns.

DJ Schanz, manager of the pro-initiative Utah Patients Coalition effort, said Utah lawmakers’ funding of this study was a smoke screen that allowed them to posture as though they were facing the issue while in fact delaying actual work.

Posted in: News

Comments are closed.