Manhattan-based financier Bob Broderick has donated $9 million to Harvard University and MIT to support their research into the effects of cannabis on the brain.

Broderick is an alumnus of both colleges and he has gone on to earn tens of millions of dollars by investing in companies like Aphria and Tweed Marijuana. It is thought to be the largest private donation towards marijuana research in history, with each institution receiving $4.5 million.

“Our desire is to fill the research void that currently exists in the science of cannabis,” said Broderick. He added that he wants to shatter any taboos surrounding marijuana research, encouraging bright young minds at Harvard and MIT to take risks and boost awareness of cannabis and its effects.

The money will go to experts in biomedicine and neuroscience as they conduct research designed to unravel the biology of cannabinoids. Harvard University claimed that marijuana research lags behind its increasing prevalence and that there are critical gaps in knowledge, so it hopes to redress the balance.

Broderick founded Uji Capital and it has successfully invested in the Canadian cannabis market. He also became a board member at Tokyo Smoke after investing in it. This firm merged in 2017 to create Hiku Brands, which was swallowed up by Canopy Growth Corp. in 2018.

He will now be immortalized in the Charles R. Broderick Phytocannabinoid Research Initiative at Harvard Medical School, which will fund various research projects.

The main focus will be examining the effects of cannabis on the brain, but it will also look at other organ systems, general health, and social ramifications. At MIT, it will support a three-year project to support independent research for four scientists at the McGovern and Picower Institutes.

Broderick said he wants to remove the stigma surrounding cannabis and arm the medical community and the public with a stronger evidence base about its effects. “We need to replace rhetoric with research,” he said.

Broderick expects his donation to inspire others, claiming it will not be the largest of its kind for long. The nascent cannabis industry has funded various research projects into its effects, but the names of Harvard Medical School and MIT carry a great deal of weight and it will be intriguing to see what the researchers unearth.