New Cannabis Research Center Launches At University of Minnesota School of Public Health

The University of Minnesota School of Public Health has established a new Cannabis Research Center (CRC) in response to the state’s recent legalization of adult-use cannabis. In May, HF.100 was passed, which includes a $2.5M annual appropriation from the cannabis sales tax, which was responsible for establishing the CRC. This funding will support important research and initiatives related to public health and cannabis use in Minnesota.

The primary purpose of the CRC is to assess the impact of adult-use cannabis legalization and inform future policies and practices. This includes researching issues such as prevention and treatment of substance use disorders, equity considerations, education, and decriminalization. The CRC will serve as a valuable resource for individuals, communities, and organizations seeking reliable information on cannabis research.

Given the recent legalization of adult-use cannabis in Minnesota, the need for thorough and evidence-based research is crucial. The CRC aims to fill this gap by providing reliable data and evidence to inform policymakers and promote equitable practices related to cannabis use. By conducting innovative research, the CRC hopes to minimize potential health problems associated with cannabis while also maximizing any potential health benefits it may offer.

On August 1st, Minnesota became the 23rd state in the United States to legalize adult-use cannabis. This momentous decision has paved the way for significant changes in how we approach and understand cannabis use in Minnesota. With this new law comes a need for comprehensive research to inform responsible policies and practices.

The establishment of the CRC at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health is a direct response to this need. As Professor Traci Toomey, the first director of the CRC, in a press release stated, “We’re extremely grateful to the Minnesota Legislature and Governor Walz for their leadership and support in creating Minnesota’s first-ever research center focused on cannabis here at the School of Public Health,” said Toomey.

“I am excited for the opportunity to lead the Cannabis Research Center and, alongside my colleagues at the School of Public Health, to conduct innovative research on the health effects of adult-use cannabis legalization on people and communities across the state, including prevention and treatment of substance use disorders, equity issues, education and decriminalization.”

Core Principles of the CRC

The CRC at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health is committed to upholding core principles in all of its research endeavors. Per the press release, CRC has already established several core principles that will guide its work, including: 

  • Leading the scientific community in cannabis research.
  • Upholding antiracist principles by prioritizing questions related to equity and incorporating antiracist practices into collaborations, research questions and methods, interpretations and communications.
  • Maximizing health benefits and minimizing health problems related to cannabis by addressing timely questions now and into the future.
  • Being a trusted source of information about cannabis research for individuals, communities and organizations.

Interim Dean Timothy Beebe outlined several priorities to start off the CRC such as identifying key staff and faculty members with related expertise, establishing an executive committee to help guide center strategy, and identifying partners across the state to help advance the CRC’s work.

“We will work collaboratively with state and local agencies and community-based organizations to explore and identify the initial research priorities related to cannabis use in Minnesota,” said Beebe. “I am confident that, under Dr. Toomey’s leadership, the CRC will provide the data and evidence our policymakers need to make informed decisions about cannabis to prevent inequity and adverse health impacts throughout Minnesota.

“As Minnesota’s only school of public health, we are honored to uphold our state’s considerable reputation as a leader in health innovation and research. We’re thankful to state leaders for giving us this opportunity to help ensure the best possible health outcomes for all Minnesotans.”

Overall, the launch of the Cannabis Research Center at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health is a significant step forward in understanding and utilizing cannabis in Minnesota. With its focus on research, equity, and collaboration with community partners, the CRC aims to provide crucial data and evidence to inform responsible policies and practices related to cannabis use.

As we continue to learn more about this complex plant, the CRC will play a crucial role in maximizing its potential health benefits and minimizing any potential negative impacts. This is another positive step towards greater understanding and acceptance of cannabis as a beneficial and legitimate form of medicine.

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