Science

CSU Opens New Cannabis Research Laboratory

Cannabis research is about to go up a notch at Colorado State University.
Cannabis research is about to go up a notch at Colorado State University. Jacqueline Collins
Colorado State University unveiled a new cannabis science laboratory on October 19, showcasing plans for further research into the chemistry behind cannabinoids.

Part of CSU’s College of Natural Sciences, the Panacea Life Sciences Cannabinoid Research Lab was announced over a year ago after a $1.5 million donation from Panacea Life Sciences, a Colorado CBD company founded by CSU alum Leslie Buttorff. The new lab has "state-of-the-art chemical separation and analysis instrumentation," according to an announcement from CSU, and will focus on all cannabinoids outside of THC, which remains federally illegal.

The Panacea lab will study how humans and animals react to cannabinoids, but that's just the tip of the iceberg, according to Buttorff. A 1979 graduate with a statistics major, Buttorff viewed the university's agricultural history as a perfect foundation for hemp and CBD research.

Already familiar with issues facing the growing CBD industry, she hopes that the new lab will study unreliabilities in current CBD product testing, separation techniques for different cannabinoids and cannabinoid absorption rates in various compounds. Buttorff also told us that the new cannabinoid center has health providers lined up for clinical studies on human reactions to certain isolated cannabinoids, but says that most of the background information is confidential.
click to enlarge Panacea Life Sciences founder Leslie Buttorff. - COURTESY OF COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY
Panacea Life Sciences founder Leslie Buttorff.
Courtesy of Colorado State University
"We want to bring credibility to testing, because a lot of products on the market aren’t what they say they are. So the procedures and credibility there will help. The second thing is that it puts us at the forefront of being more than just a CBD company, so we can focus on more cannabinoids," Buttorff said in a 2020 interview with Westword. "We also want to be in a better position to help people’s health. A lot of customers ask us about dosing, and we still can’t really give them an answer. We also get questions about which products to take, and why a certain product isn’t working for a person. Those might be more high-level, but we want to work more into that, too."


The lab will hold training sessions for graduates and undergraduates, but Buttorff and CSU hope to develop an accompanying curriculum in the future.

While many Colorado schools began studying marijuana's health impacts after the state's voters legalized adult-use marijuana in 2012, CSU made a big commitment to public-facing research. The Colorado State University-Pueblo campus opened the Institute of Cannabis Research in 2016 and offers degrees in industrial hemp, cannabis biology and cannabis chemistry. According to the university, the new lab on CSU's main campus in Fort Collins will now serve as a "springboard for CSU-based research, new and ongoing" in cannabinoids.
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Thomas Mitchell has written about all things cannabis for Westword since 2014, covering sports, real estate and general news along the way for publications such as the Arizona Republic, Inman and Fox Sports. He's currently the cannabis editor for westword.com.
Contact: Thomas Mitchell