The federal government continues to classify marijuana as a Schedule I drug, a product with “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse,” along with heroin and LSD. As a result, even legitimate researchers at labs and universities across the country must wade through restrictions on the clinical trials they run, which marijuana they can use and how it is shipped and stored.

This means states that have legalized cannabis for adult use are doing so in an information vacuum, with less understanding of what it is and what it does than virtually any nutritional supplement currently on the market, and with far less information than they have on legal substances that are easily abused, such as alcohol or tobacco. Law enforcement officers don’t even know at what point it is unsafe for marijuana users to drive.

“We suddenly have this huge influx of people who are able to buy cannabis, able to use it in all its various formulations,” Bryan said. “And we know nothing.”

The questions they and members of their 20-member research team want to answer are far-ranging.