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A team of researchers at the University of Georgia will be the first to study the effects of cannabis extract laws on health care. (File/Staff)

A $3.5 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse will allow University of Georgia researchers to study the effects of medical cannabis on chronic pain, according to a UGA Today news release.

The research team will determine if medical cannabis laws change the health behaviors of people with chronic pain and compare cannabis treatment to “traditional pain treatments,” the release said.

David Bradford and Amanda Abraham of the UGA School of Public and International Affairs will lead the project along with Grace Bagwell Adams of the UGA College of Public Health.

“Much of the policy change has happened quickly in a landscape that is not well understood at the patient level,” Adams said in the release. “This work is going to contribute to our understanding about the intersectionality of medical cannabis policy and the behavior of chronic pain patients.”

The team will be the first to study the effects of cannabis extract laws on health care, Bradford said in the release. The UGA researchers will work with the University of Minnesota’s Research Data Assistance Center to access the medical data of Medicare and Medicaid enrollees. Similar data for people with private insurance will come from the Health Care Cost Institute.

“Drs. Bradford, Abraham and Adams have well-established expertise in evaluating economic and health outcomes related to medical marijuana,” Matthew Auer, dean of SPIA, said in the release. “Considering the growing list of states and municipalities that are giving the green light to medical uses for cannabis, their new NIH project could not be more timely.”

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