Novelist Patricia Cornwell donates $500K for marijuana research

What makes a best-selling crime novelist like Patricia Cornwell, who has no clear ties to the medical marijuana movement and no history of marijuana activism, give $500,000 to fund a marijuana research study? It’s a one-word answer: love. She’s been married to the study’s lead researcher, Dr. Staci Gruber, since 2005.

Gruber announced in a press release on Monday that Cornwell’s gift will fund the new Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery (MIND) program. Harvard Magazine published a story about the new study that provided more insight.

“Most studies on medical marijuana to date have focused on its efficacy, or on patients’ symptoms. MIND head researcher Staci A. Gruber … hopes that the new initiative, the first of its kind, will begin to answer questions about whether medical marijuana affects cognitive function, positively or negatively — and why — by gathering empirical data about change over time within patients.”

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This isn’t the case of a celebrity funding an unqualified loved one’s endeavors. Gruber serves as director of the Cognitive and Clinical Neuroimaging Core at McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School’s largest psychiatric affiliate. She’s an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard and she isn’t new to the study of marijuana, either.

A quick scan of Gruber’s Harvard Catalyst profile reveals she has participated in at least 14 published studies on the effects of marijuana since 1995. Last year, she appeared in Sanjay Gupta’s WEED special on CNN and she moderated a conversation with him about marijuana on Wednesday. She says that the need for studies come from the fact that “policy has outpaced science.”

While the article made no mention of the reason for Cornwell’s donation, philanthropy isn’t new to her. The author of the popular “Kay Scarpetta” series of novels previously made donations totaling in the millions to places like the Harvard Art Museum and the Straus Center. Cornwell co-founded the National Forensic Academy and serves as a member of McLean Hospital’s National Council, according to her website bio.

The initial phase of the MIND study will involve researchers collecting data from patients suffering from conditions including pain, anxiety and PTSD. The subjects will have no prior history of medical marijuana use. Cognitive tests and brain scans will inform the researchers of any significant changes. The researchers won’t be administering marijuana, but Massachusetts allows medical marijuana use for patients who qualify.

Hopefully, this study will provide useful medical evidence for lawmakers considering legalization and doctors weighing treatment options.

This article was originally published by

Published by P. Aiden Hunt

Aiden Hunt is a creative writer and freelance journalist covering marijuana policy and other related issues. He has been published in print and online by outlets such as The Denver Post (The Cannabist),, The Hemp Connoisseur Magazine and Cronic Magazine. He is currently focused on literary creative nonfiction.

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