The University of California (UC) Berkeley announced Tuesday the creation of its new Cannabis Research Center. This will be the first university in the UC system to explore the environmental and social impacts of marijuana legalization. And it is about time too. As this newsletter previously reported, for many decades marijuana research has been stymied in the United States, due to its Schedule I status. An entire research center dedicated to cannabis will hopefully hasten much-needed research on cannabinoids (chemicals in the cannabis plant).
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A small grant from the UC Berkeley Social Science Matrix paid for this year’s Cannabis Center. The research at the Center will focus primarily on the following: policy and regulation, environmental impacts and cannabis-producing communities. This is a public health effort to monitor the effects of legalized recreational and create a public dialogue. It will also contribute to the advancement of “prosperous communities and healthy environments.”
The center, co-directed by Dr. Van Butsic, says that "The center could be the beginning of something huge in academia". UC Berkeley being what it is, one of the most respected universities in the UC system, if not the nation, is a great place to start. It has prestige (which goes a long way in academia), is located in a state with legal recreational marijuana, and is a multidisciplinary research center. The faculty members who have had access to the Social Science Matrix, a campus research start-up incubator, for the past year to independently study cannabis. The team recently decided to declare itself as an official research group through Matrix.
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Dr. Dominic Corva, Ph.D., founder and executive director of the Center for the Study of Cannabis and Social Policy, claims that “This really opens things up. We really should be so much further ahead in our ability to gather data, analyze it, and get it out there.” Students of UC-Berkely state are mainly enthused by the Center's creation.
They understand that there remains a level of uncertainty around cannabis. Dominick Williams, a student in the UC system, was quoted as saying “For a drug like cannabis, there are a lot of open questions around the specific long-term effects. A research center that can answer those open-ended questions is a net positive. The more information we have about a drug as popular as cannabis, the better.”
Cal’s number one rank among public universities bestows unprecedented credibility on the burgeoning field of cannabis studies. When the Center opened this past Tuesday, a private reception took place. Speakers included Richard Parrott of farming regulator CalCannabis; Joanna Cedar from major producer CannaCraft; Patricia Brooks, cannabis advisor to Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley; longtime advocate Kristin Nevedal of the Nevedal Group; and Stephen DeAngelo, founder of Oakland’s biggest retailer Harborside. A wine and cheese reception followed a panel talk.