Kristin Brinckerhoff ponders the selection of marijuana at 3D Cannabis Center in Denver on day 2 of Colorado’s legalized recreational marijuana on Jan. 2, 2014. (Denver Post file)
State health officials want to hire someone to keep an eye on marijuana legalization — at potentially one of the highest salaries in state government.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is advertising a position for a “marijuana health effects and research manager.” The job will involve monitoring the health consequences of legalization; gathering data from hospitals, emergency rooms and poison control centers; and helping to lead an advisory committee that produces a report on legalization’s outcomes.
The position also could oversee research grants on the health impacts of recreational marijuana sales. The legislature has designated nearly $350,000 for the grants in the budget currently awaiting Gov. John Hickenlooper’s signature.
The position had been staffed by an epidemiologist, someone who has expertise in analyzing health patterns. But Health Department officials this time around wanted to put a doctor in the position. The job qualifications require both a medical degree and a master’s degree in public health or equivalent experience.
“It’s just a better fit,” said Mike Van Dyke, the department’s chief of environmental epidemiology, occupational health and toxicology. “It allows us to really have those physician-to-physician conversations, which are important.”
That change, though, could boost the position’s annual salary over $200,000 per year. CDPHE lists the job’s salary range as $137,172 per year to $215,124 per year. Van Dyke said the lower end is the minimum rate for physicians who work in Colorado government.
The upper end would make the job the fourth-highest-paying job in state government,…