University of Kentucky Opens Medical Cannabis Research Center

The research center will study the health risks, benefits, and potential side effects related to the use of cannabis and its derivatives.


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Despite legislation to legalize medical cannabis in Kentucky failing to make headway in the Senate for a third straight year, the University of Kentucky (UK) has opened a center to accelerate research on medical cannabis.

Approved under House Bill 604, the Kentucky Center for Cannabis, located within the UK College of Medicine's Center on Drug and Alcohol Research,  is designed to "advance the study of the use of cannabis and cannabis derivatives for the treatment of certain medical conditions and diseases as indicated and recommended by the center's advisory board," according to the bill text

RELATED: Kentucky Governor Signs Legislation Authorizing Cannabis Research Center at University of Kentucky

Under H.B. 604, the center will receive $2 million over the next two years to aid research costs and participant recruitment. In addition, UK and the center must apply to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency to receive a cannabis cultivation license, which will permit the center to conduct "research pertaining to optimal growing conditions," according to a press release.

Kentucky is one of 11 states that has not legalized cannabis for medical use, and a measure to make medical cannabis a reality stalled in the Senate in March for a third time, Cannabis Business Times reported.

RELATED: Kentucky Medical Cannabis Bill Struggles to Gain Senate Support

Despite legalization efforts in limbo, the research center will study the health risks, benefits, and potential side effects related to the use of cannabis and its derivatives and use its findings to educate medical providers, legislators and citizens as the state considers legalization. The center will also "engage in preclinical research on new and innovative applications and analysis of public health data," according to a press release.

"The legislature is interested in having us explore the conditions for which medical cannabis might be useful, as well as the most effective dosing and route of administration for each condition," said Shanna Babalonis, Ph.D., director of the UK Cannabis Center. "The new center will allow us to expand our clinical research, particularly focusing on medical conditions that may be helped by medical cannabis."

The center is expected to host a meeting in the future with outside experts to present its findings.

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