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First medical marijuana research launches in Pa.; patients to be paid for participating in Jefferson U. studies

Medical marijuana is legal in some form in 33 states, but to date, there has been very little scientific evidence that it is an effective treatment for any ailment.

Pennsylvania’s medical schools are now gearing up to determine whether cannabis works.

Six years after the idea was germinated, the nation’s first state-authorized medical marijuana research program is being launched in Philadelphia, state officials said. Researchers at Thomas Jefferson University announced this week that they are recruiting patients for the first of two studies.

The first investigation — a simple observational study that will record what patients take and how they fare — will focus on the impact of cannabis on the quality of life of patients suffering from any one of 23 qualifying “serious illnesses” in Pennsylvania. Those ailments — approved for research by the state Department of Health — include chronic pain, anxiety, cancer, autism, PTSD, and opioid-use disorder, among others. It could determine what additional projects researchers focus on next.

The second study will assemble a smaller focus group to learn about their experiences obtaining patient certification from the state and what they’ve confronted in dispensaries. A planned clinical trial will look at marijuana’s ability to help cancer patients struggling with nausea and weight loss.

Participants will be rewarded with debit cards for filling out questionnaires. The amount, which will be paid by Jefferson, will depend on the study. Information can be found at www.ethoscannabis.com/about/research. Already, about 60 patients have expressed interest in enrolling, organizers said. [Read More @ The Philadelphia Inquirer]

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