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UF, Florida's Land-Grant University, Could Lead the Way in Cannabis Innovation

February 25, 2014 - 6:00pm

Florida has a unique opportunity to lead the way in cannabis research at our land-grant university, the University of Florida.

With so much attention being given to the proposed constitutional amendment allowing licensed Florida physicians to recommend the medical use of marijuana by qualified patients, we believe that our land-grant university must respond with adequate research to ensure the safety and efficacy of cannabis in safe, effective forms like oils, pills and creams.

As the University of Florida's Drug Policy Institute acknowledges, the future of medical marijuana lies in its individual components that can be isolated and delivered in a nonsmoked manner.

Further research and development of these various cannabis extracts provide our land-grant university with the opportunity to work with growers, scientists, medical doctors and patients in a safe and regulated environment as they study the efficacy of these derivatives in treating a wide variety of diseases.

We want a doctor to feel confident in recommending a cannabis-derived medication to a patient. We also want the patient to feel comfortable knowing that what they are ingesting has been tested for efficacy and is free from harmful additives and substances.

We are encouraged by the work under way at New York University in beginning clinical trials of cannabidiol or CBD in children with epilepsy. We're also encouraged by interest from the University of Massachusetts to study how cannabis may assist our veterans in dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Expedited cannabis research presents an incredible opportunity for our land-grant scientists and researchers to work with our doctors to bring safe and effective therapies to patients across the world.

We strongly encourage our land-grant university, UF, to tell state lawmakers what we can do to spur this type of research and development of cannabis-derived therapies.

If the proposed constitutional amendment has taught us anything, it's that expedited research and development is needed to advance this growing area of interest in cannabis' therapeutic properties. Neither the federal nor the state government should stand in the way of advancements in medicine.

Rep. Dave Kerner, D-Palm Springs -- with Rep. Katie Edwards, D-Plantation -- wrote this for Sunshine State News.

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