Pubdate: Sat, 30 Aug 2014
Source: Denver Post (CO)
Copyright: 2014 The Denver Post Corp
Author: John Ingold
Page: 15A


Marijuana's Illegal Status at the Federal Level Casts Doubt Over Who 
Can Accept Funds.

Colorado will begin handing out money for a groundbreaking medical 
marijuana research grant program early next year. But the first 
meeting of a group that will review applications for the grants shows 
there's doubt over who will be able to accept the funding.

Next week, Colorado's health department will release the program's 
official request for applications. Starting early next year, the 
state expects to distribute $9 million for research on the medical 
effects of cannabis, making it the largest state-funded effort to 
study medical marijuana.

The department's new Medical Marijuana Scientific Advisory Council 
will review applications in November and make recommendations to the 
state Board of Health over which studies should be funded. Who will 
receive that money, though, is an ongoing question because of 
marijuana's strictly illegal status at the federal level.

At the council's first meeting Friday, several members raised 
questions about whether university based researchers would be able to 
participate in the program without first getting complicated approval 
from the federal government. Some members said university review 
boards might pull approval for projects seen as too controversial or 
a threat to the university's federal funding even after the state 
grants money for the research.

"It's going to be a challenge for the applicant," said Dr. Larry 
Wolk, the health department's executive director. "Part of our work 
is going to be to make sure we have reserve awards if something falls through."

Dr. Paula Riggs, a council member who is an addiction-medicine 
specialist at the University of Colorado, said researchers can reduce 
that concern by getting approval from the Drug Enforcement 
Administration. But such approval typically takes a long time.

"You can do it," she said, "but you have to jump through the hoops."

The bill that created the grant program also directs Colorado's 
attorney general to work with the federal government to get approval 
for research on marijuana. It is unclear what the attorney general's 
office has done to pursue that goal.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom