A new $5.5 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse will fund a five-year study that will follow 2,500 pairs of twins in Colorado, where recreational pot became legal in 2014, and in Minnesota, where it remains prohibited.
University of Colorado Boulder professor John Hewitt studies behavior and genetics and is one of the lead researchers on the study, set to begin next year. The benefit to this study, Hewitt says, is that the twins they’re working with are sets of twins that have participated in previous behavioral studies.
“In both states we’ve been studying families and twins for many years,” Hewit said, “So we have data on our participants going back 15 or 20 years and we know how they’re behaving before legalization in both states.”
“The Minnesota part of it is important because it allows us to control for the general changes in society that aren’t directly related to the state level legalization.”
The study aims to answer questions like:
- Does legalization lead residents to use it more?
- How does recreational marijuana impact careers, family life, and mental health?
- What are the effects of high potency marijuana, or “dabbing”?
But not everyone thinks the federal money is being put to its best use. Sally Vander Veer, president of one of Denver’s larger medicinal and recreational marijuana dispensaries, Medicine Man, wants to see more studies done on marijuana for medical purposes.
“The social impacts, the societal impacts, those are all important, don’t get me wrong,” Vander Veer said. “But what’s really important is saving lives, helping people feel better, and giving them safe access to this medicine.”