Cannabinoid Research Center explores natural alternatives to medicine

Most of us in Colorado have heard of THC and CBD, but there are many other cannabinoids with medicinal qualities. That’s what a new, unique research facility at Colorado State University will study.

CSU celebrated the grand opening of the Panacea Life Sciences Cannabinoid Research Center on Tuesday.

It took years of planning – and some patience with COVID-related delays – but the alumna behind the project was happy to see its doors finally open.

“The idea behind this lab is we want to explore other cannabinoids,” Leslie Buttorff, CEO of Panacea Life Sciences, told CBS4. “Most people, in Colorado at least, are very used to THC and CBD, but there are 110 or even more cannabinoids that we want to do research on, and they all have different natural alternatives to medicine.”

Buttorff gifted the university $1.5 million to build the facility equipped with state-of-the-art chemical separation machines. Researchers will use them to take a deeper dive into the many cannabinoids found in hemp plants.

“We’re investigating the scientific aspects,” Melissa Reynolds, professor in the Department of Chemistry and director of the new research center, said. “What is the best method we can use to get the best separation of the plant? If you have 20 different cannabinoids, can we separate all of them? We develop the methods for that.”

The center is expected to be a leader in cannabinoid research, studying how cannabis extracts can impact human and animal health.

“Other cannabinoids have been identified through other research and we’re exploring like the top 10,” Buttorff said. “So CBC, CBN, CBG and the natural remedies that we might be able to use with those cannabinoids. With CBG, we’re doing a lot of research for different stomach ailments… We’ve also developed a horse paste for equines, to calm horses’ anxiety, joint pain, things like that.”

While the lab is in CSU’s College of Natural Sciences, the center’s director said they’ll work with others in Agricultural Sciences Department, Engineering, Veterinary Medicine and more.

“It really allows us to push forward the boundaries of what we know into new areas,” said Reynolds.

And it comes with the ambitious goal to develop a world-renowned creation, much like what the University of Florida did with Gatorade.

“What we want to do here at CSU is find our own Gatorade,” Buttorff said. “So something that’s going to be very helpful to people worldwide, that’s our goal.”

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