New Cannabis Research Group Founded in Pennington

Health and public policy experts who support the benefits of medicinal cannabis and the need for objective research have joined together to create the Cannabis Education and Research Institute, a non-profit organization.

CERI, which now has a website at www.ceriusa.org, does not yet have a physical office. It existed previously as a less formal organization but recently convened a board of directors and officially became a nonprofit group. CERI says its mission is to advance unbiased, evidence-based research on the medicinal use of cannabis and to share reliable information with patients, clinicians, payers, and policymakers.

“We are bringing our voices together to ensure that the value of medicinal cannabis is more widely known and understood — and that medicinal cannabis is available to those who could benefit from it,” said David Knowlton, chair and CEO of CERI.

In a statement, the group said that as many states move to legalize cannabis recreationally, it will work to support patient access to effective strains of medicinal marijuana. “The availability of medicinal cannabis can be harmed when states legalize recreational marijuana. Strains useful for the medical cannabis user often are not popular with recreational users. As a result, there is less incentive for cannabis dispensaries to cultivate medicinal strains,” the statement said.

CERI also said it will advocate for third-party payment of medicinal cannabis to help sustain the market for medicinal strains.

“We’ve seen first hand how medicinal marijuana can change lives for the better,” Knowlton said. “And we believe the best way to preserve access to medicinal cannabis is through reputable research — research that could prompt third party payers to cover medical cannabis. Coverage of cannabis will be essential to sustaining the market for medical marijuana.”

Knowlton is also chairman of the Compassionate Care Foundation, a medicinal cannabis dispensary in Egg Harbor, as well as the founder and former CEO of the New Jersey Health Care Institute (See U.S. 1, June 26, 2019).

Tiki Barber, a sports broadcaster and former NFL running back for the New York Giants, is a member of CERI’s advisory board.

“I have both experienced and personally seen how football can damage the body,” Barber said. “We need policies that allow players to consider cannabis as an option for treatment. The NFL has refused to accept medicinal cannabis use by athletes even in states where it’s legal.”

CERI plans to work with patient advocacy groups on education and research that help patients living with chronic illnesses, such as cancer and epilepsy. CERI also said it is working with medical schools and is planning a series of Patient-Centered Outcome Research studies to obtain feedback from medicinal cannabis users. CERI will collaborate with the Compassionate Care Foundation as well as other medical marijuana dispensaries on research.

“Critical gaps in knowledge exist around cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system,” said Elisabeth Van Bockstaele, a member of CERI’s board and the founding dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Professional Studies at Drexel University College of Medicine. “I joined CERI to advance knowledge around a substance that is being used by millions of Americans. We need to support evidence-based research on both the beneficial and harmful health effects of cannabis use.”

Judge Dismisses Lawsuits Against Rider University

On March 2 a court dismissed two lawsuits against Rider University that challenged its plan to move Westminster Choir College from its current location in Princeton to its main campus on Route 206 in Lawrence.

The New Jersey Superior Court dismissed the suit by the Westminster Choir College and another by a group of Westminster students that said the university did not have the legal right to move the institution. A third suit, filed by the Princeton Theological Seminary, is still pending.

“Much work already is underway to successfully transition Westminster’s programs to Lawrenceville, and much work remains,” said Rider president Gregory G. Dell’Omo in a statement. “The transition will be achieved most successfully if we work together as a community, offering one another strength and support as we move forward.

“And we must move forward. Now is the time for every member of our community to look ahead to the future with hope, confidence and resolution. We recognize that while change can be unsettling, it is sometimes necessary, and it can lead to new possibilities.”

Rider plans to move Westminster Choir College to Riders’s Lawrenceville campus beginning this September.

The plaintiffs in the dismissed lawsuits gave statements saying they would appeal.

Deaths

Janet West Williams, 91, on March 3. She was vice president of Williams-Builder in partnership with her husband, Harry H. Williams Jr., who was president. Together they built the company into a nationally recognized design-build firm.

Jacquelyn G. Tchorni, 94, on March 1. She worked in the math group of ETS, where she developed tests. There she met Bernard Tchorni, her future husband. The couple was reportedly the first “ETS Marriage.”

Robert R. Klein, 89, on March 3. He was supervisor of the NJ Civil Rights Division, as well as chief speech writer and policy aide for the governor of New Jersey.

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