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Colorado's Medical Marijuana Studies Are An 'Opportunity To Guide The Nation'

DENVER (CBS4) - Colorado is spending $9 million to study the role of marijuana as a medication. The state Board of Health approved the grants, and on Saturday researchers will come together to talk about their studies.

There are many topics. People want to know if pot can help with things like Parkinson's, post-traumatic stress disorder, and even sleep.

We rush around by day, but at night we can't sleep. Thirty percent of Americans suffer from insomnia. Some turn to pills, while others turn to pot.

"There are studies that suggest that many marijuana users use marijuana for sleep," Dr. Russell Bowler of National Jewish Health said.

Bowler said it makes sense.

"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.

Dr. Russell Bowler of National Jewish Health
Dr. Russell Bowler of National Jewish Health talks with CBS4's Kathy Walsh (credit: CBS)

But according to Bowler, there are no good studies evaluating the effectiveness of cannabis.

"Potentially marijuana could be used to treat sleep -- we don't know," he said.

Bowler and other researchers at National Jewish intend to find out. They are recruiting people who use pot before they hit the pillow. They'll do sleep studies on the participants to see if marijuana helps.

The research is one of nine medical marijuana studies approved by the Colorado Board of Health. The $9 million in grants will pay for studies of how pot could help treat PTSD, epilepsy, children with brain tumors and more.

RELATED STORIES: Marijuana Legalization Story Archive

Bowler calls it an opportunity.

"To guide the nation on how marijuana can be used safely."

Colorado leads the nation in pot legalization and legislation. Bowler hopes the state will now lead in learning about the medical benefits of cannabis.

The Marijuana and Health symposium is this Saturday at National Jewish Health. Health professionals will get to hear researchers briefly describe their studies that will get underway soon.

LINK: Marijuana and Health Symposium

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