With marijuana now legal in some form in over half of the United States, the scientific community has seen substantial growth in cannabis research. Studies on the efficacy of medical marijuana on a variety of illnesses, as well as genetic research on the chemical makeup of cannabinoids and how they work helps us to understand the future of cannabis and its use.

Officials at Colorado State University – Pueblo recently announced the opening of its new Institute of Cannabis Research (ICR). The facility aims to find new uses for marijuana and increase the study of the plant in its various forms. Recreational marijuana was legalized in Colorado in 2014; much of the funding for the Institute came from cash raised from the taxation of legal weed.

CSU-Pueblo President Lesley Di Mare said in a statement that the Institute aligns with the University’s mission of innovative research and education in the community.

“We want to understand what sort of economic and social impacts marijuana has on those communities where it is legal,” Di Mare explained. “Too much reliance has been placed on anecdotal information, and we hope to give back to our region and the nation with well-founded research.”

Multiple studies have already started, including research on how cannabis may aid people with epilepsy, and whether it can be used to combat viral infections.

“We want to find out whether there are positive or negative impacts (of marijuana use) in terms of medical breakthroughs,” Di Mare said.

The Institute launches at an interesting time in Pueblo; voters there recently rejected measures that would have shut down marijuana businesses in town. The news is yet another example of how the cannabis industry has become more legitimate – and accepted by society as a whole. This is despite the fact that President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for Attorney General is staunchly anti-pot.

The ICR will comply with any and all applicable Colorado and Federal laws in its work with cannabis.  Research will be conducted in collaboration with three executive branch agencies: The Department of Public Health and Environment; the Division of Criminal Justice in the Department of Public Safety, and the Colorado Energy Office in the Governor’s Office.

Jen Mullen, the Institute’s interim director, is excited about the potential for new discoveries in cannabis science. She stated in a recent interview that the goal of the ICR is, “to develop new knowledge of cannabis and its derivatives through research and education and find ways to use to improve people’s lives.”