The state of Colorado has awarded $2.7 million for research into how medical marijuana could replace opioids to ease chronic spinal pain — and how it might treat irritability in children and adolescents with autism.
The research will be conducted at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, the state Department of Public Health and Environment announced this week.
Gov. John Hickenlooper issued an executive order in June, citing the autism study as a fiscal priority.
That research will be headed by Dr. Nicole Tartaglia, a pediatrician specializing in intellectual and developmental disabilities and an associate professor at the CU Anschutz School of Medicine. Tartaglia practices at Children's Hospital Colorado in Aurora.
The spinal pain study will be led by Dr. Emily Lindley, an assistant professor at the CU Anschutz Department of Orthopedics, and Dr. Rachael Rzasa Lynn, an assistant professor at the school's Department of Anesthesiology.
Each study received $1.35 million from the state's Medical Marijuana Research Grant Program. The state has issued $9 million in medical marijuana research grants so far, plus $2.35 million for seven public health studies on marijuana. Researchers have studied use of marijuana to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, pediatric epilepsy, sleep disorders and Parkinson's disease.
Federal grants for such studies are rare because marijuana still is illegal under federal law. That has limited U.S. studies into the health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids, says a book published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.