CUChange at the University of Colorado Boulder is conducting a citizen science initiative to crowd-source information on the health effects of cannabis or CBD. The purpose of this study is to take a “citizen science” approach to research on the health effects of different types of cannabis or CBD, which will empower people to more actively participate in the research and to see the resulting data. This research is being conducted to address the lack of available information on the health effects of cannabis or CBD. Better information will help people like you weigh the risks and benefits of cannabis or CBD versus other alternatives. Eventually, it will help people make decisions about whether to use cannabis or CBD, and more importantly, about how to use these products so any risks are minimized and the benefits are maximized. This citizen science initiative will enable the public to more directly engage in the research. Ultimately, the goal of this research is to provide much-needed information to the public regarding the medical uses of cannabis or CBD.
What type of study is this?
- An anonymous online survey (link to the survey below).
How can you participate?
An anonymous online survey (link to the survey below).
How long does it take?
It will take approximately 5-15 minutes to complete.
What do we want to know?
- We are interested in knowing which types, doses, and routes of administration of cannabis or CBD are used among different patient populations (e.g., cancer, chronic pain, PTSD).
- How these products and their cannabinoid profile are related to your experience of your medical symptoms as well as evaluate potential side effects.
- See “Objectives” section below for more detail.
History and Background
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 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 difficult to obtain. State-regulated markets and markets in countries that have legalized cannabis (e.g., Canada) have a much wider variety of products (i.e., flower, edibles, capsules, topicals, tinctures) than what is available for research in the U.S. Good scientific data regarding the effects of the cannabis products used in legal markets 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, sleep disturbance) 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 or CBD products are related to potential risks or side effects. While some users may enjoy feeling high while many patients these may be viewed as side effects.
Some specific questions that we hope to answer:
- Are cannabis products with CBD or a ratio of CBD to THC more effective for anxiety, pain, poor sleep or other symptoms?
- What doses, concentrations, and ways of using cannabis are most associated with symptom relief?
- Do products with higher levels of CBD versus THC mitigate the effects of THC on how high you feel or on memory function?
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 and because believe in empowering people as citizen scientists, 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 will also make the dataset publicly available to everyone on this website. However, none of the analyses or data that is shared or published will contain any identifying information.
A Few Important Points
There are a few important points to consider before you sign up for the research:
- The survey is completely anonymous and no personal identifying information (e.g., your name, address or phone number) or data (e.g., IP addresses) will be collected.
- It’s simple to participate. To get started, click the Sign-up! link below. You will provide your electronic consent to be a part of the study as well as receive more detailed information.
- You can complete the survey about the effects of cannabis and CBD. You will complete the survey just once and it will take between 5-15 minutes.
- The data that you contribute to this study will hopefully help others make decisions that minimize risks and maximize benefits.
- You can withdraw from the study at any time. You may also refuse to answer any question.
- If you wish to discuss this or any other matter, please give us a call at 303-492-9549 or email us at CUchange@colorado.edu.
- To sign the consent form, you must agree to use an electronic format for your consent.
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 survey, you must complete the online informed consent form first (click Sign-up here!). After signing this form, you will be directed to online questionnaire.
Principal Investigator: Dr. Kent Hutchison
IRB protocol #19-0279
Address: 1777 Exposition Drive, Boulder, CO, 80301
Explanation of Procedures
If you agree to participate in this study, you will be asked to do the following:
- Introduction and consent.
- Following the survey link will lead you to this form.
- After you have read this form, you will have the opportunity to confirm that you would like to participate in this research by answering the questions provided on this form.
- Once you have electronically provided your consent, you can choose to click “next” to start the study and complete the survey.
- You can complete the survey at any time on your phone, tablet, or computer.
- You can exit this webpage at any time and not complete the survey.
- About the survey questions.
- Once you have given electronic consent, you will fill out the questionnaires in this survey.
- The first set of questions will ask for general information about your age, relationship status, employment, and education.
- Are you employed? Are you in a relationship?
- The second set of questions will ask about your overall health concerning your exercise habits, diet, and substance use.
- How many minutes per week do you spend doing aerobic exercise?
- You will be asked if you are currently using cannabis or CBD, and if applicable, you will be asked questions regarding your regular cannabis or CBD use.
- How do you usually use cannabis or CBD? What products do you typically use?
- The third set of questions will ask about your medical history, current medication use, and perceived relief you get from those medications.
- Do you experience higher than normal anxiety? What medications do currently use to relieve symptoms of pain?
- You will then be asked questions about your experience with cannabis or CBD concerning any medical problems.
- How much relief does cannabis or CBD provide for your pain?