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Md. cannabis company pledges $20M for research

A marijuana plant being grown for propagation thrives under artificial light March 30, 2000, at a home near Vancouver, Canada.(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

A marijuana plant being grown for propagation thrives under artificial light March 30, 2000, at a home near Vancouver, Canada.(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

One of the companies that’s hoping to grow medical marijuana in Maryland has promised $20 million dollars to support cannabis research.

That’s assuming, of course, that the company is granted the license it’s applied for — state regulators are expected to approve the first applications later this summer.

Wicomico County-based CannaMED Pharmaceuticals announced Thursday that it has committed $10 million to the Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and another $10 million to the international Institute for Research on Cannabinoids.

“It may seem like we’re jumping the gun,” CannaMED President and CEO Angeline Nanni acknowledged in an interview. “But we’re not paying it all at once.”

The company has built into its business plan that 5 percent of its net revenue each year will go toward research, she said.

CannaMED plans to provide the first research funds at the end of its first year of operations, which is expected to be 2017, and more funding will be provided over the following years, Nanni said.

One goal is to compensate for the lack of substantial government funding for cannabis research, which has created a scarcity of good data on medicinal use.

“The whole cannabis industry is really stagnating,” Nanni said. “We have anecdotal evidence, but very minimal data to back up that evidence.”

Research that clarifies how medicinal cannabis can and should be used can also help remove some of the stigma surrounding marijuana use, helping move the industry “out of the stoner age,” she said.

“[At first], you’re going to have a lot of doctors who’ll say ‘I can’t recommend it because I don’t know anything about it,'” Nanni said, adding that CannaMED’s research mission is about the legitimizing of an industry.

The contribution to Hopkins is intended to support the work of Ryan Vandrey, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences. Vandrey’s research interests include the behavioral pharmacology of cannabis and how different methods of administering the drug change its effectiveness, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.

CannaMED’s contribution to IROC is expected to be used primarily to support clinical trials, the company said.

The company recently bought a 47,000-square-foot industrial facility in Hebron for about $1 million. Much of the space will be used for growing marijuana, but a 6,000-foot area on the second floor will be set aside for visiting scientists to conduct research independent of the company’s work.

CannaMED expects to create up to 70 jobs at the Hebron facility.