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Canadian Government Pledges $25 Million to Cannabis Research

By Alexander Beadle

Published: May 29, 2019   
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Canada’s federal government last week announced that they will be providing $25 million CAD of funding for select cannabis research projects in the country. 

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Canada’s federal funding agency for health research, and partners are pledging a total of $24.5 million CAD (approx. $18.1 million USD) towards the funding of 26 different cannabis research projects across the country. The funding is part of the Canadian government’s ongoing commitment to generating quality evidence on the health and safety effects of cannabis.

The CIHR funding will be used to support the efforts of researchers in several areas, including topics such as the therapeutic applications of cannabis for chronic pain, cancer, and neurodevelopmental disorders. 

A $4.5 million contribution from the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction will be used to fund research into the effect of Canada’s new cannabis laws on public health. The Mental Health Commission of Canada is also providing $2.85 million that will go towards projects that address current gaps in the scientific understanding of the links between cannabis use and mental health. 

Bill Blair, the minister behind the Cannabis Act and the Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction, announced the new funding in Calgary last Wednesday, saying that “the work that is done here … is going to make the world a better, healthier, and safer place,” according to a report from the CBC

In addition to announcing the research funding, Blair also revealed details of three planned projects at the University of Calgary that will be supported by the funds. 

The first will investigate cannabis hyperemesis syndrome, a condition that is sometimes developed by chronic cannabis users. The syndrome is predominantly characterized by recurrent episodes of severe vomiting and nausea and can lead to more dangerous medical issues, such as dehydration, seizures, or even kidney failure if left untreated. 

The second project will research the effectiveness of cannabis as a treatment for migraines and the third will look to develop effective cannabis education and harm-reduction messaging for young people in Canada. 

Blair also announced approximately $390,000 of funding for two cannabis public awareness projects in Alberta that will be funded under Health Canada’s Substance Use and Additions Program. 

“I want to make it very clear,” said Blair during the announcement, “it is not the government of Canada’s intention to promote the use of this drug, but for adults who choose to use it, we think it’s absolutely critical that they have the ability to make safer and healthier choices.”

After the funding announcement, Blair then took part in a round-table discussion with youth. 

“For many years all we could tell our kids was ‘just say no,’ now we can start telling our kids, think,” commented Blair, according to CTV News.

“Just think about the science, the evidence, the impact on your life. The potential harms and risks for your decisions. And those choices need to come from sources they trust.”

Canada’s Minister for Health, Ginette Petitpas Taylor, also spoke on the newly committed funding in an official statement.

“We are investing in research to provide the evidence needed to maintain policies for cannabis use that protect the health and safety of Canadians,” she said. 

“The projects announced today will result in new information on the health effects of cannabis, which will be valuable to governments, public health professionals, health care providers, and all Canadians.”

Alexander Beadle

Science Writer

Alexander Beadle has been working as a freelance science writer since 2017 and has covered the cannabis industry for Analytical Cannabis since 2018. He has also written for our sister publication, Technology Networks, and the cannabis industry consultant firm Prohibition Partners, among others. Alexander holds a Master's in Materials Chemistry from the University of St. Andrews, where he won a Chemistry Purdie scholarship, and conducted research into zeolite crystal growth mechanisms and the action of single-molecule transistors.


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