Thanks to its heavy sunshine, Pueblo County is known for outdoor cannabis cultivations.
Thanks to its heavy sunshine, Pueblo County is known for outdoor cannabis cultivations.
Jacqueline Collins

CSU Pueblo Institute of Cannabis Research Holding Free Forums

No other part of Colorado captures the controversy over legal cannabis quite like Pueblo County, where anecdotal reports of crime and economic benefits often clash with each other. To help definitively answer questions about pot's impact on Pueblo while furthering dialogue, the Colorado State University Pueblo Institute of Cannabis Research will make all of its programs on the first day of its 2018 ICR Conference free to the public.

The second annual conference hosted by the Institute of Cannabis Research will run over the course of three days, from Thursday, April 26, to Saturday, April 28, offering programs with experts on scientific, medical, industrial, legal, economic and social elements of cannabis sharing their insights. To open the conversation, ICR professor Tim McGettigan opened up all of the April 26 sessions.

"In honor of the enduring support that the Pueblo community has provided to the Institute of Cannabis Research and CSU-Pueblo, the ICR 2018 Conference Planning Committee has designated Thursday, April 26, 2018, as 'Pueblo Community Appreciation Night,'" McGettigan wrote in a letter to Pueblo residents. "This means that all ICR 2018 Conference events that are scheduled for Thursday, April 26, 2018, will be free and open to the public."

And that public invite extends beyond Pueblo to anyone who wants to attend.

CSU Pueblo launched the ICR in 2015 to study legal pot's effects on Pueblo and Colorado as a whole, conducting numerous studies and surveys to determine how the economy, homeless population, crime rate and other social issues have been impacted by cannabis. The institute's first major report on Pueblo County, based on data as recent as December 2017, sparked debate after finding no evidence linking cannabis legalization to an increase in homelessness; it also stated that the cannabis industry's effect on the county's economy was a net positive in spite of increased funding for law enforcement and other local agencies to contend with cannabis-related crime.

McGettigan, who spoke to the Denver City Council about cannabis and homelessness in Pueblo County in 2017, will conduct an open session on the topic at 5 p.m. on April 26. There are three more free sessions that day; here's the official lineup:

Cannabis Engineering: A Look at the Present and 10 Years Into the Future
4 to 5 p.m., Occhiato Student Center
Organizers: Nebojsa Jaksic, CSU-Pueblo

Lightning Session
4:30 p.m., Occhiato Student Center
Organizers: Elizabeth Christian, CSU-Pueblo; Bethany Kies, CSU-Pueblo

Cannabis, Homelessness, and Prosperity
5 to 6 p.m., Occhiato Student Center
Organizers: Tim McGettigan, CSU-Pueblo; Don Burnes, The Burnes Center for Poverty and Homelessness at the University of Denver

Opening Plenary Address
6:30 to 8 p.m., OSC Ballroom
Cannabis-Based Drug Delivery: University Lab to Medical Trials
Pueblo native Audra Stinchcomb describes twenty years of cannabis-based drug delivery research in less than an hour. The highs and lows of a start-up pharmaceutical company journey are illustrated. This talk takes you from CSU-Pueblo to Upstate New York to Kentucky, and back to CSU-Pueblo for the beginning of a fantastic three-day eclectic exploration of all things cannabis.

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