Publicly funded marijuana research center launching in Chicago

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A little more than a month after President Joe Biden signed a new marijuana research bill into law, officials said they intend to open a cannabis-centric research laboratory and think tank in Chicago sometime in 2023.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the Cannabis Research Institute will be operated in the city’s downtown area by a subsidiary of the University of Illinois and will have a broad remit, including policy advocacy as well as plant and medical science.

The Cannabis Research Institute will be entirely publicly funded and reject cash from cannabis industry players and investors, the newspaper reported.

Chicago was selected for the state-funded cannabis research facility because some of the country’s biggest cannabis companies are headquartered there, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said.

Prominent multistate operators Cresco Labs, Green Thumb Industries – one of the only American multistate operators to post a profit in 2021 – and Verano Holdings are based in the city.

The Chicago facility joins other cannabis-related research efforts at universities across the country, including the Cannabis Research Initiative at the University of California, Los Angeles; the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at the University of California, San Diego; and the University of California, Davis’ Cannabis and Hemp Research Center.

It Cannabis Research Institute might launch in time to contribute science to the review of marijuana scheduling the president announced in October.

The president instructed both the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Justice Department to review the science on cannabis and determine whether current knowledge is consistent with marijuana’s classification as a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act.

Were cannabis to be rescheduled to Schedule 3 or lower, cannabis businesses would enjoy immediate benefits, including easier access to institutional investments and banking as well as tax deductions.