Researchers at U-M hope the study can provide scientific insight to the long-term impacts of medical marijuana use and information as to the types of patients that seek the drug.
Associated Press file photo
“With the ongoing policy debate and the growing popularity of medical marijuana programs in the United States, it is essential to understand the ramifications of medical marijuana use for individuals who seek access to it,” study leaderMark Ilgen said in a statement. “We hope that with this study can help inform the debate.”
An associate professor in U-M’s Department of Psychiatry, Ilgen is the principal investigator for the research.
More than 135,000 patients in the state are registered medical marijuana users. Michigan is one of 20 states that have legalized marijuana for medical purposes, as well as the District of Columbia.
The four-year grant from theNational Institute on Drug Abuseto U-M researchers will fund a study of 800 patients.
Patients cannot volunteer to be a part of the study. The research team will be recruiting patients who are seeking to become a registered medical marijuana user in Michigan by approaching them at their first doctor’s appointment at participating clinics.
Patients that agree to participate will be asked a detailed survey of questions every six months throughout two years. Researchers plan to examine the patients’ symptoms, everyday functions and use of health care services.
“Marijuana is the most frequently used drug in the nation, and has been legalized for medical use in many ways, yet we have very little understanding of how individuals using medical marijuana do over time,” according to a statement from Frederic Blow, a co-investigator on the study.
Blow is a substance abuse researcher who directs the Mental Health Services Outcomes & Translation Section at the Medical School.