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New TRDRP Awards Advance Cannabis Science in California

With the legalization of marijuana in California, the number of cannabis related proposals submitted to the Tobacco Related Diseases Research Program (TRDRP) has increased exponentially.  As of 2016, TRDRP had funded only four projects that dealt with cannabis and cigarette smoking, but during FY 2017-18, TRDRP received 71 new cannabis-related applications. 

This is an important development for public health research in California.  In their 2018-2020 Master Plan, the California Tobacco Education and Research Oversight Committee (TEROC), directed TRDRP to “study the health consequences of the exclusive, combined and co-use of new tobacco products and cannabis.” 

In addition, voter approved Proposition 56, provided that funds from the increased tax on tobacco products could be used for research, into:  “. . . all types of cancer, cardiovascular disease, lung cancer and oral cancer and tobacco related diseases . . .” effectively expanding the scope of TRDRP’s research funding as the additional revenue has increased.

Of the 32 cannabis-related proposals received in the first of two 2018 cycles, six were funded:

  • Spatial Analysis of Tobacco Outlets, Vape Shops and Cannabis Retailers - USC/University of Southern California
  • Impact of new policies on young adult tobacco and marijuana use - University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)
  • An Evidence-Based Program Reducing Teen Tobacco & Cannabis Use - Education Training and Research Associates, Inc.
  • Marijuana Dispensaries and Adolescents’ Use of Marijuana and Tobacco - University of California, San Diego
  • Vaping Nicotine and Cannabis in Adolescence and Early Adulthood - USC/University of Southern California
  • Exposure to Tobacco, E-Cigarette, and Marijuana in Multi-Unit Housing – San Diego State University Research Foundation

The 39 remaining new applications currently under review span the entire spectrum of TRDRP’s research priorities, including Public Policy, Prevention, Treatment, Pulmonary Effects, Cardiovascular Effects, Environmental Toxicology and Neuroscience.  TRDRP’s Special Initiative applications, the Research Policy Centers and the Ecosystem and Human Health Impacts of Tobacco and Marijuana, also include cannabis-related research questions.

In order to ensure proper coordination and responsible stewardship of taxpayer resources, TRDRP is partnering with the California Department of Public Health and the Bureau of Cannabis Control to coordinate state efforts in funding cannabis related research.  Additionally TRDRP is one of several California-based agencies that are supporting the planning of the next North American Cannabis Summit that is slated to take place in Los Angeles, California in January of 2019.  Through these collaborative efforts, TRDRP aims to ensure that marijuana public policies and practices are informed by rigorous research into its health consequences and therapeutic benefits.