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Excerpted from UKNow article published this week:

The University of Kentucky Cannabis Center has awarded its first set of faculty pilot grants to support innovative and collaborative cannabis research.

The UK Cannabis Center conducts research on the health effects of cannabis, including its risks and benefits when used to treat certain medical conditions. It was established by Kentucky House Bill 604 and appropriated $2 million through June 2024.

Four researchers have been selected for grants and represent the College of NursingCollege of Public HealthCollege of Pharmacy and the Martin School of Public Policy and Administration. Awards in the amount of $75,000-$100,000 will fund studies for a period of 14 months.

“We are excited for this opportunity to expand and accelerate cannabis science at UK and conduct studies focused on the public health impacts of cannabis that can directly affect the lives of Kentuckians,” said Shanna Babalonis, Ph.D., director of the UK Cannabis Center. “We have talented and dedicated researchers across a range of disciplines right here on campus who can contribute meaningful science to the center from multiple perspectives.”

The research done at the UK Cannabis Center will help educate medical providers, legislators and citizens on the risks and benefits of the use of cannabis and cannabinoids as Kentucky implements new medical marijuana legislation.

The Evolution of Cannabis Consumption: Evidence from Traffic Fatalities

Caroline Weber, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Martin School, will study the changes in cannabis use by examining traffic fatality records.

“The rapid expansion of recreational cannabis access in the U.S. has drastically increased legal recreational cannabis consumption. However, increased legal consumption likely coincides with a decrease in black market and medical cannabis; hence, it's theoretically ambiguous how much overall cannabis consumption has changed,” said Weber.

Weber will construct a proxy for cannabis consumption using blood THC tests in traffic fatality records and compare this measure with existing usage measures. Her team will then use their new proxy to more precisely estimate consumption changes in response to recreational and medical cannabis legalization.