A Manhattan-based investor has dropped nine million dollars to fund marijuana research at his alma maters-Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. According to the Harvard Gazette, Charles R. Broderick has donated 4.5 million dollars to each institution to study marijuana's effects on health and behavior. The donation is reportedly the largest private gift to benefit independent research of cannabis. Broderick said it is important to fund these types of studies so that the medical community and public can make informed decisions when it comes to marijuana consumption.

"Our desire is to fill the research void that currently exists in the science of cannabis," Broderick, the founder of Uji Capital LLC, told the Gazette. "[...] I want to destigmatize the conversation around cannabis-and, in part, that means providing facts to the medical community, as well as the general public. Then we're all working from the same information. We need to replace rhetoric with research."

The donations will go toward the three-year studies in which scientists will examine marijuana's effects on brain development, organ systems, and general health. The Gazette reports the studies will explore the cognitive and psychological effects of weed as well as the social ramifications of its use.

Although recreational marijuana is currently legal in 10 states and medical marijuana is legal in 33 states, the stigma surrounding the drug has clearly faded over the years; however, many institutions have struggled to fund marijuana research because it remains illegal on the federal level.

"Even though cannabis products are now widely available, and some are used clinically, we still understand remarkably little about how they influence brain function and neuronal circuits in the brain," said Bruce Bean, a Harvard Medical School professor of neurobiology. "This gift will allow us to conduct critical research into the neurobiology of cannabinoids, which may ultimately inform new approaches for the treatment of pain, epilepsy, sleep and mood disorders, and more."