Can medical marijuana help people who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)? What about those who have Parkinson’s disease? Or people who toss and turn at night because of insomnia?

The documented research currently available shows cannabis to be a promising treatment for these conditions and many more, but more research must be completed to really tap into all the healing powers of the cannabis plant.

Thanks to grant money approved by the Colorado Board of Health, researchers may soon find answers to these questions.

Leading the nation in the legalization of marijuana, Colorado is now poised to set the tone for how to use cannabis in medical applications. The Board of Health has approved $9 million in grant money for nine medical marijuana studies. These studies will evaluate the effect of the substance on several different medical conditions, including epilepsy, brain tumors in children, sleep problems and other issues.

According to Dr. Russell Bowler from National Jewish Health, the effectiveness of cannabis as it relates to sleep has not been sufficiently studied.

“There are receptors for the active ingredient in marijuana in the region of the brain that has been associated with the control of sleep,”

he said.

“Potentially marijuana could be used to treat sleep – we don’t know.”

Bowler notes that other studies have shown that many people who use marijuana do so in order to sleep. To evaluate how cannabis affects sleep problems, researchers from National Jewish Health are recruiting people who use marijuana before bed and will conduct sleep studies on the participants.

Acknowledging that the studies in Colorado are an opportunity, Bowler said this is a chance “to guide the nation on how marijuana can be used safely.”

The studies are expected to begin soon. Researchers will share the work they plan to do at the Marijuana and Health symposium on June 13.

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