UCLA Cannabinoid Affinity Group


  1. To provide a home for interested investigators to collaborate on groundbreaking cannabis, cannabinoid, and endocannabinoid research
  2. To provide guidance and resources to help members navigate funding and research barriers
  3. To educate the public and health professionals about evidenced-based risks and benefits of cannabis use
  4. To lay the initial groundwork for the creation of a dedicated cannabis, cannabinoid, and endocannabinoid research center at UCLA


As of January 2017, approximately 20% of the U.S. population lives in a state with legal recreational marijuana, while an unprecedented 60% live in a state with legal medical marijuana.  Despite this unprecedented access, the science behind cannabis is sorely lacking—we simply do not know enough about the potential risks and therapeutic uses.  This lack of science is due to cannabis’ classification as a “Schedule 1 Drug”, which has blocked research for half a century.  On the other hand, drugs like cocaine, opium, and methamphetamine are Schedule II drugs, and thus easier to research than cannabis.

In response to the urgent need for research on this matter, the UCLA Cannabinoid Affinity Group (CAG) brings together a group of multidisciplinary UCLA basic, translational, and clinical investigators to map out research into how cannabis and cannabinoids affect the human body and interact with the human endocannabinoid system.  We are one of the first cannabinoid research groups established in the country.

2017 Inaugural UCLA Cannabis Research Symposium:

On Thursday April 20, 2017 we held the Inaugural UCLA Cannabis Research Symposium at the UCLA Neuroscience Research Building. Out UCLA faculty were joined by guest speakers Ken Mackie and Ziva Cooper for a historic series of talks on the latest science of cannabis, cannabinoids, and the endocannabinoid system. Over 200 people joined us in the auditorium, and over 10,000 joined us for the livestream. You can view videos of all the talks here (no Facebook account required to view). 

Affinity Group Participants:

Raj Bantra, MD (Internal Medicine, Pulmonary/Critical Care Division)

Meeryo Choe, MD (Pediatrics, Neurology)

Giovanni Coppola, MD (Neurology, Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences)

Patrick Dowling, MD, MPH (Family Medicine)

Aimee Drolet Rossi, PhD (Anderson School of Management)

Michael Fanselow, PhD (Psychology)

Kym Faull, PhD (Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences)

Tim Fong, MD (Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences

Matthew Freeby, MD (Medicine, Endocrinology)

Nelson Freimer, MD (Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences)

Christopher Giza, MD (Pediatric Neurology and Neurosurgery)

Christine Grella, PhD (Integrated Substance Abuse Programs)

Arpana Annie Gupta, PhD (Medicine, Division of Digestive Diseases)

Larry Hoffman, PhD (Head & Neck Surgery)

Yih-Ing Hser, PhD (Integrated Substance Abuse Programs)

Eric Hsu, MD (Anesthesiology)

Ka-Kit Hui, MD (Medicine, Center for East-West Medicine)

Shaun Hussain, MD (Pediatrics, Neurology)

Alicia Izquierdo, PhD (Psychology)

Shafali Jeste, MD (Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences)

Eydie London, PhD (Molecular and Medical Pharmacology)

Emanuel Maidenberg, PhD (Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences)

Stephen Marder, MD (Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences)

Juan Carlos Marvizon, PhD (Medicine, Division of Digestive Diseases)

Andrey Mazarati, MD, PhD (Pediatrics, Neurology)

Larissa Mooney, MD (Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences)

Michael Ong, MD, PhD (Medicine)

Roel Ophoff, PhD (Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences)

Lara Ray, PhD (Psychology)

Ken Roos, PhD (Physiology)

Steve Shoptaw, PhD (Family Medicine)

Igor Spigelman, PhD (Division of Oral Biology & Medicine)

Tom Strouse, MD (Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences

David Sultzer, MD (Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences)

Don Tashkin, MD (Medicine, Pulmonary/Critical Care Division)

Darren Urada, PhD (Integrated Substance Abuse Programs)

Joyce Wu, MD (Pediatrics, Neurology)


How to Join:

Ziva Cooper, Ph.D.
Email: zcooper@mednet.ucla.edu