Medical marijuana research is about to get a big boost thanks to ongoing efforts in the state of Pennsylvania. After initiating a project to use state universities to study the effects of medical marijuana, state officials have been filling out the list of participating schools.
Most recently, University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine was added to the list. As a result, researchers at the highly ranked medical school will soon begin researching the therapeutic potential of cannabis.
Penn Medicine Joins Medical Marijuana Research Program
Penn Medicine is the newest school to gain approval from the state to begin medical marijuana research. According to local news sources, it is now one of eight schools in the program.
As part of the program, Penn Medicine will start looking into the medical benefits and potential uses of cannabis. But before researchers at the school can start studying the plant they need to find a cannabis company to partner with.
This is one of the more interesting—and controversial—elements of Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana research program. Since cannabis is still illegal for everything except medical uses, Penn Medicine and other research schools can’t work with the actual substance.
Instead, they have to rely on data gathered elsewhere. At this point, the state is allowing schools to partner with private cannabis companies. These companies will presumably be able to handle the plant and work closely with patients who are consuming the plant.
Penn Medicine was reportedly planning to partner with a company based in Massachusetts called Curaleaf. But those plans may be have changed after a complaint was filed about the state’s methods for partnering schools with companies.
So far, it’s unclear who Penn Medicine might partner with. Similarly, there have not been any concrete timelines provided for when research might begin at the school.
Medical Marijuana Research in Pennsylvania
All of this is part of Pennsylvania’s program of government-mandated medical marijuana research. In March, the Pennsylvania Department of Health launched the program.
As part of the program, the state said it will approve up to eight schools to research the medical potential of cannabis. To participate, schools must apply to the state. From there, authorities review applications and make their decisions.
With the addition of Penn Medicine, the state has now filled all eight openings. In addition to Penn, other universities already approved include Drexel University, Pennsylvania State University, Temple University, and University of Pittsburgh.
Along with opening the research program, the Department of Health also approved 13 new medical marijuana growers and 23 new dispensaries. In part, these new providers will be available to work alongside universities that are researching medical marijuana.
In general, the research program has been positively received. There was some controversy, however, surrounding the protocols for partnering cannabis companies with universities.
In May, a group of cannabis companies filed a complaint. They claimed that the state’s vetting process was set up in such a way that would unfairly favor large cannabis companies.
Similarly, people voiced concerns that companies might not provide accurate data if their own commercial interests were at stake.