Over the last several years, we have witnessed enormous change concerning the public acceptance of cannabis. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized the medical use of cannabis, while Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and the District of Columbia have also legalized recreational use. Other states will surely follow soon. As of July of 2015, Colorado alone had issued close to 2500 licenses for the production and sale of cannabis products through more than 800 dispensaries, many selling hundreds of different products from cannabis flower, to edibles, to topical preparations. At the same time, there is very little scientific evidence regarding: 1) the effectiveness of any of these products, 2) effective doses or methods of use, or 3) side effects. The primary reason for the lack of scientific studies on these cannabis products is that the traditional approach to scientific research (i.e., federal funding of controlled studies) is a non-starter because of federal laws that designate cannabis as a schedule I narcotic. The only federally approved method for conducting cannabis research requires researchers to use cannabis produced at a federally funded facility in Mississippi. This cannabis is only available in flower form from a limited number of strains and is very difficult to obtain. Ironically, the vast majority of the 800 dispensaries licensed in Colorado stock a much wider variety of products (i.e., flower, edibles, capsules, topicals, tinctures) than what is available for federal research, limiting the usefulness and validity of any research with the federally approved source. Good scientific data regarding on the cannabis products used in everyday life simply do not exist.
For scientists who genuinely care about individuals and families who suffer from medical conditions that are often self-treated with cannabis (e.g., chronic pain, rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, seizure disorders, cancer, etc.) and who desperately want more evidence regarding the effects of cannabis, few options are available. Our goal with this project is to find a path forward – a path that provides scientific data on the potential benefits and potential risks of cannabis products to those who need it the most - as fast as possible. Our approach involves the active participation of patients, both in terms of funding the project and in terms of the science. To that end, we have created the “Cannabis and Your Health” program of research.
In order to be compliant with federal law, this research has to be “observational,” which means that we cannot tell you what products to use or how to use them. Rather, we collect information about the choices that you make about what to use as well as the outcomes. We want to collect information on what types of cannabis strains and products users consume and what the varying cannabinoid concentrations are in these products. We then want to compare those concentrations with self-reported outcomes from users.
There are a number of questions that we hope to answer with this research. For example, we hope to better understand which cannabinoids are most closely associated with relief for each type of symptom (e.g., pain, anxiety) for each type of patient (e.g., patients undergoing cancer treatment, individuals with PTSD). We also hope to better understand how varying cannabinoid concentrations found in cannabis products are related to potential risks or side effects. While some recreational users may enjoy feeling high and enjoy the acute effects of cannabis on cognitive function, for many patients these may be viewed as side effects.
Some specific questions that we hope to answer include:
We believe answers to these questions, and many more, will be beneficial to people from all walks of life, old and young, and we want to have as many different types of cannabis users as possible in this project. You can choose to complete the online consent form and online questionnaire by clicking the Sign-up! link below.
Because we believe that transparency and access to the information is important, once the study size is large enough, we will put basic analyses of the health outcomes on our webpage so that you can see how your answers compare to the average responses of others in the study. We also plan to publish the data in respected scientific journals and share the data with other scientists. However, none of the analyses or data that is shared or published will contain any identifying information. Any information you provide will be kept completely confidential.
There are a few important points to consider before you sign up for the research:
We hope that you decide to participate. There is far too little information out there regarding cannabinoids and health and your participation is an important step in helping others to make informed decisions!
In order to sign-up for the study, you must complete the online informed consent form first (click Sign-up here!). After signing this form, you will be directed to the first online questionnaire. A link to the second questionnaire will be provided once you have completed the first.