Researchers in Philadelphia are embarking on a first-of-its-kind study on the medicinal benefits of cannabis. 

Officials in Pennsylvania said this week that a team from Thomas Jefferson University will soon launch “the nation’s first state-authorized medical marijuana research program.” 

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the researchers are recruiting patients for a pair of studies: the first will involve “a simple observational study that will record what patients take and how they fare,” with a “focus on the impact of cannabis on the quality of life of patients suffering from any one of 23 qualifying ‘serious illnesses’ in Pennsylvania,” which include  “chronic pain, anxiety, cancer, autism, PTSD, and opioid-use disorder, among others.

The second study “will assemble a smaller focus group to learn about their experiences obtaining patient certification from the state and what they’ve confronted in dispensaries,” according to the Inquirer. 

“This is the first time there’s ever been a partnership between an American cannabis producer and academic researchers,” Brooke Worster, a physician at Jefferson’s Sidney Kimmel Medical College, told the newspaper. “There may be similar projects going on in Israel, but there’s been nothing like this before in the United States.”

A Drive For Research

As marijuana laws have been changed throughout the country, there has been a corresponding drive for greater research into the effects of cannabis. Researchers at the University of Iowa announced earlier this year a study that examined the effects of medical marijuana on senior citizens.  In February, MedPharm Holdings, a Denver-based cannabis company, said it was looking into the effects of both THC and CBD on patients suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s.

“We haven’t yet tapped into what this plant can really do to help alleviate the symptoms,” Albert Gutierrez, CEO of MedPharm, told the Denver Post. “We hear a lot of anecdotal evidence as far as helping with epilepsy or helping with arthritic pain… now it’s time to put the cannabinoids to the test and really understand what cannabinoids and what doses and what delivery methods really help deliver that relief.”

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