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New marijuana research in Colorado could treat addiction and medicinal marijuana patients

Researchers hope to see how marijuana interacts with the reward center of the brain
Posted at 8:06 AM, Feb 16, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-16 10:06:01-05

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — New research in Colorado is trying to curb marijuana addiction and learn more about its medicinal properties. Researchers believe it could also be used to help fight the opioid crisis.

Christian Patriarca is a co-owner of Slice 420, a Colorado Springs pizzeria. He moved their pizzeria to Colorado specifically to help their daughter Sofia. She has epilepsy and cerebral palsy and used to have more than 100 seizures a day when they lived in Florida.

"Our daughter, Sofia, started having seizures at 6 weeks old. So we tried everything under the sun in Florida that didn't work," Patriarca said.

Since she's gotten access to medicinal marijuana, Patriarca said it's been the key to her health.

"Medical marijuana that we draw from the plant, and extract twice a day, has stopped her seizures 95%," he said.

His family is excited about the new research funded by the Institute of Cannabis Research and believes it could help Sofia even more.

"Marijuana is among the most widely used psychoactive substances in the world. And it has both rewarding qualities and aversive qualities," Dr. David Root said.

Dr. Root is a researcher at the University of Colorado Boulder and was just approved for three years of research to study how certain neurons in the brain react to cannabis.

"If you can imagine a bag of M&M's, and those different colors are different kinds of cell types, we want to know which is the color, which is the type of M&M that really controls cannabis addiction or opioid addiction, or learning deficits. And then we can say 'What if we manipulate just those green M&M's?'" Root said.

He not only believes this could help people who suffer from addiction, but it could also help medicinal marijuana patients who have to take large doses for their health.

"This might be beneficial for those who are trying to quit marijuana addiction, but also those who have to take high doses of marijuana that might be aversive, they might be taking it for medicinal purposes," Root continued.

The funding for the research comes from the Institute of Cannabis Research based out of CSU-Pueblo. The ICR is the official state research institute for cannabis and is funded by the Marijuana Tax Cash Fund. That comes from the taxes people pay at dispensaries.

"We saw a need to create objective science that would inform the public and our policymakers about the science of cannabis, and how that impacts people in our society," Jeff Smith, a professor of Biology at CSU-Pueblo said.

New marijuana research hopes find out more about medicinal properties