UK’s cannabis center shares plan for studies on the drug’s impacts

UK’s cannabis center shares plan for studies on the drug’s impacts
Published: Oct. 26, 2022 at 5:10 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - The Kentucky Cannabis Center is sharing its plans for studies and trials on the drug’s various impacts.

Wednesday, a University of Kentucky professor sat before the Interim Joint Committee on Health, Welfare, and Family Services to report that the UK’s newly-established cannabis research center is making progress at lightning-quick speed.

Dr. Shanna Babalonis directs the center and presented a variety of planned, controlled studies. One will work with the Markey Cancer Center to look into providing edible doses to patients with cancer.

“This is going to be one of the first of its kind,” Dr. Babalonis said. “You would think that cancer and cannabis have been really well-researched, but that isn’t the case.”

Other studies include looking at the effects of cannabis on driving, opioid use, and physical issues like pain and obesity.

Lawmakers are calling the progress so far encouraging.

House Bill 604, a bi-partisan bill, provides them with $2 million to contribute to the studies and a two-year window to complete those studies which come in June 2024.

Dr. Babalonis said they are also tasked with applying for a license to grow cannabis as part of a pilot program with UK’s College of Agriculture.

Senator Ralph Alvarado, R-Winchester, co-chairs the committee and says this is the type of data that state senators have been calling for.

“I think it’s important to not get ahead of the scientists,” Alvardo said. “Let’s produce the science, help produce the science, and then from there, we can start changing things like we’ve always done with treatments.”

Senator Alvarado says, as this two-year window of studies continues, they look forward to having Dr. Babalonis back to provide further updates on their progress.

Alvarado said the research being done at the Kentucky Cannabis Center could also loosen up the federal government. He said Kentucky could provide proof, that agencies like the DEA and FDA need, to look into cannabis as a medication.