Utah is getting a medical cannabis research center

by DGO Staff

File this under ‘Things we never thought would happen,’ please

Exciting news, folks! The University of Utah is gearing up to build a brand new Center for Medical Cannabis Research, and we couldn’t be more thrilled. Just recently, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox signed House Bill 230 into law, giving the green light for this much-anticipated project to take shape.

So why is this such a big deal? Well, for starters, the Center for Medical Cannabis Research will be an absolute game-changer for Utah’s healthcare industry. With the goal of becoming a research hub, the center will oversee all cannabis-related studies happening in the state and help identify any gaps in patient accessibility. This means doctors and healthcare professionals will have access to more comprehensive information about cannabis, allowing them to make more informed decisions about patient care.

But that’s not all. Representative Jennifer Dailey-Provost, the bill’s sponsor, has even bigger plans in mind. In the future, she hopes to establish a National Institute of Health-approved medical cannabis cultivation site right here in Utah. This would put Utah on the map as a leader in medical cannabis research, and further bolster the state’s already impressive agricultural heritage.

“I figured if Kentucky can do it … we can create one in Utah as well,” Dailey-Provost told The Daily Utah Chronicle.
According to Dailey-Provost, Utah legislators had been considering studies that were conducted out of state instead of conducting their own research. .

“What we hear from providers, especially physicians, nurse practitioners, PAs who can recommend [cannabis] as a medication is that they just don’t feel like they have enough information to really confidently recommend this as part of a comprehensive health care plan,” Dailey-Provost said.

The primary goal of the Center for Medical Cannabis Research is to become a hub that monitors all research being conducted in the state, as well as “identify gaps in patient accessibility, and support researchers and going out and finding grounds, doing the work, talking to other states about what work is going on.”
Dailey-Provost has loftier goals, too. In the future, she would like to have a National Institute of Health-approved (NIH) medical cannabis cultivation site in Utah.

“There are only six in the nation that grow medical grade cannabis that is eligible for study by NIH grants,” she said. “I think Utah with its robust agricultural heritage, we have an opportunity to maybe be a center for meeting those needs for research being done at the National Institutes of Health.”

The bill’s passage also earmarks $650,000 to fund the Center for Medical Cannabis Research, which comes from the Department of Health’s Qualified Patient Enterprise Fund. University of Utah Associate Vice President Dr. Rachel Hess said they want to do everything they can to help usher in this new era of medical cannabis research.

“Obviously, everything can’t be accomplished in one year, but the legislature has really made a longitudinal commitment, so ensuring that the science that is prepared to go…can go in the first year and then staging subsequently after that are the key steps…to ensure that we really are able to deliver on the promise of this vision,” said Hess.

And while medical cannabis is taking center stage, it’s not the only plant medicine in the spotlight. Psilocybin, a powerful compound found in magic mushrooms, is also gaining attention in Utah. A bill was recently introduced that would allow psilocybin therapy to be legal for patients with qualifying conditions. For those struggling with anxiety, depression, and PTSD, this could be a game-changer in their journey towards healing.

All in all, it’s clear that Utah is taking a progressive approach to plant medicine research, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds. So here’s to the new Center for Medical Cannabis Research and all the exciting breakthroughs it will bring!


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