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Back From the Dead: A few good cannabis bills passed into law this month

State lawmakers have finally wrapped the 171-day legislative session—one of the longest in history—and at first blush, the news wasn't all bad for legalized cannabis.

A few of the bills actually do some good. It looked like several weed-related bills had died after Gov. Ducey vetoed nearly two dozen bills to strongarm state lawmakers into cutting income taxes for his rich pals, but some legislation came back from the dead and made a second trip to the governor's desk.

The biggest winner for Big Weed was Ducey's signature on HB 2298, which will devote $25 million to marijuana research over the course of five years. The bill allocates $5 million annually for clinical research on the efficacy of cannabis to treat pain and a myriad of other ailments.

Dr. Sue Sisley of the Scottsdale Research Institute said the bill's passage could make Arizona a top-tier center for cannabis research.

"HB 2298 makes Arizona the first in the nation to require medical cannabis funds be allocated only for FDA-controlled trials, objectively studying cannabis as a potential medicine for treating pain, autism, PTSD and other intractable illnesses," she told Tucson Weedly. "There are other states [that] give medical marijuana money to research but none who have actually required FDA randomized controlled trials: Arizona will be the first state to require this kind of rigorous research, which is the only research that will really move the needle and help change public policy."

Sisley added that results of this research would have "high credibility with the medical community and public health departments" to sway lawmakers' opinions.

"Arizona could help generate a renaissance of cannabis research that could help answer some of the most crucial clinical questions patients have about how cannabis works and doesn't work," she said. "HB2298 will catapult Arizona to the forefront of some of the most important cannabis clinical trials in the world."

Research will focus on epilepsy, autism, PTSD and pain but other areas of research are open as well.

"This is huge for the state of Arizona," Arizona NORML Director Mike Robinette said. "This is a clean bill not vitiated by Speaker Bowers' desire to prove that everyone who ever was consumed marijuana has gone crazy and is axing people and bludgeoning them to death on the highways."

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