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Cannabis research is the focus of upcoming University of Connecticut symposium

Ryan Caron King
Connecticut Public Radio
FILE: Peter Apicella, a UConn graduate student, works with hemp plants in the school's lab in 2019.

The University of Connecticut will host a Cannabis Research Symposium this month at the main campus in Storrs. Scientists, scholars, researchers and the business community will come together to share and discuss the latest advancements in the field of cannabis and the future of the industry.

Gerry Berkowitz, a professor of plant science and landscape architecture at UConn, is one of the organizers of the event. Berkowitz said that while there are many cannabis-related symposiums, this one is unique because its primary focus is on research.

“Our symposium is going to be a light shining through the darkness about what we can really count on with regards to all — a broad spectrum of issues from policy and legislation to the plant to cannabinoid receptors in the brain,” Berkowitz said.

Steve Kinsey, a professor at the School of Nursing and director of the Center of Advancement in Managing Pain at UConn, said the conference is a great way to bring together researchers who use cannabis products while working directly with patients in clinics.

“It’s been taken more seriously as an alternative for studying pain and anxiety and other types of ailments that people have,” he said.

But both professors say that with rapidly changing laws, and cannabis-related products exploding on the marketplace, it can be difficult for people to differentiate between correct information and hype.

“Right now, there’s a lot of marketing of cannabis products, and there’s not a lot of research backing up that marketing,” Kinsey said.

Berkowitz believes this conference will be unique because of the veracity of the information that will be presented.

“The symposium covers a very broad range of topics and is exclusively focused on what we can say is true at the present time based on refereed research,” he said.

UConn is notably the nation's first university to offer classes on the fundamentals of cannabis horticulture and has since expanded the curriculum.

“Connecticut has a lot of cannabinoid research going on, and we have for years. It’s a good time to be able to meet face to face with researchers at Yale and other places in the neighborhood to form new collaborations and build upon our specific areas of expertise,” Kinsey said. “I’m really excited to be in the same room with lots of people with related interests.”

Discussions at the conference will include the health implications of cannabis, biochemistry, policy and law as well as best practices for plant cultivation.

Learn more

The Cannabis Symposium will be held March 16 and 17 and is open to the public, though registration is required.

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