By Sam Wood
Researchers at Thomas Jefferson University announced their intention Friday to build what they called the world’s largest patient database for medical marijuana, which will collect health information from over 100,000 users.
The national project — called the MMJ.org Initiative — will launch this summer and expects to reach its goal by the end of the year. Patients in marijuana-legal states will be recruited at dispensaries and through their physicians, said Charles Pollack, director of the Lambert Center for the Study of Medicinal Cannabis and Hemp at Jefferson.
“There are millions of patients using medical cannabis,” said Pollack. “Not all will be interested in participating, but 100,000 is our initial goal. It’s a scale that no one has ever dreamed of. If we get enough patients, then we can focus research on specific illnesses.”
The Lambert Center is partnering with Boston-based startup ioVita, which will build the online platform to enroll patients.
Volunteer patients will be asked to keep health diaries to document their ailments and their use of cannabis medicines. They will not be paid and they will not receive any cannabis product for participating.
“Patients can decide what they want to do with the data,” said Alex Frost, ioVita’s founder. “They can keep it locked up, but they might choose to share it with researchers in an ethically approved research project.” Frost, a tech entrepreneur, said patients can also share information with their health-care teams or with peers in a patient community.