One of the challenges of the campaign to legalize cannabis across the country is the lack of benchmark data that compares social-health issues before and after states legalize pot. Now the University of Colorado hopes to fill in some of those gaps with a long-term study on groups of test subjects with very similar makeups: twins.
The $5.5 million study, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, will monitor 2,500 sets of twins aged 23 to 29 in Colorado and Minnesota over a five-year span to see how using alcohol, cannabis and other substances during adolescence and beyond affects their psychological health and social functioning. According to an announcement from CU, researchers have already been following the participants for fifteen to twenty years in a collaborative effort with the University of Minnesota.
Through phone and Internet surveys, the team will compare Colorado participants’ behavior from before and after January 2014, when retail cannabis sales began in this state. Half of the twins studied live in Minnesota, where the only legal form of legal marijuana is extracted oil for medical patients suffering from a handful of conditions. Aiming to reflect consumer trends instead of traditional study methods, researchers will look into how participants are consuming and how potent the products are.
Dr. John Hewitt will lead the five-year study.
Courtesy of Colorado University Institute for Behavioral Genetics
“By including twins living in Minnesota, the researchers can control for factors – aside from legalization – that might influence outcomes regardless of what state one lives in. In addition to looking at how frequently subjects are using marijuana, the researchers will also look at the methods by which people are using it (edibles, dabbing, smoking, etc.) and how potent — in terms of THC levels — it is,” the