Canada invests in new cannabis research and public awareness programs

From: Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Researchers to produce evidence on the potential harms and therapeutic uses of cannabis

May 22, 2019 – Calgary, AB

The Government of Canada legalized and regulated the non-medical use of cannabis in October 2018 and established strict regulations to protect the health and safety of Canadians. As part of an ongoing commitment to generating evidence on the health and safety effects of cannabis, the Government is continuing to invest in research and supporting public awareness campaigns to provide Canadians with the facts on cannabis and promote guidelines for lower-risk use.

Today, the Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction, on behalf of the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health, announced approximately $24.5 million in funding for cannabis research from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and partners. This funding includes support for 26 projects across the country that cover topics such as the use of cannabis and cannabidiol (CBD) oil for the treatment of pain and anxiety.

The CIHR funding will also support research teams that will explore the therapeutic potential of cannabis in areas such as cancer, chronic pain, and neurodevelopment. It will also support research that will examine the public health impact of Canada’s new cannabis laws through a $4.5M contribution from the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction.

With $2.85M in support from the Mental Health Commission of Canada, funding will also go towards research aimed at addressing key research gaps regarding cannabis use and mental health.

Minister Blair also announced funding of approximately $390,000 for two cannabis public awareness projects in Alberta funded under Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program. The University of Calgary has received funding to support a cannabis café education and discussion series, led by a harm reduction specialist. These sessions are aimed at helping University of Calgary students learn about the immediate and long-term effects of cannabis use and increasing awareness of Canada’s Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines.

The Alberta Rural Development Network has received funding to support rural communities in educating their populations about cannabis. Funding will allow the Network to work directly with interested communities to develop and disseminate cannabis awareness resources that are targeted to the needs of the community.

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

The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor

Minister of Health

“We have put in place a strict regulatory framework for cannabis that aims to keep cannabis out of the hands of youth and the profits out of the hands of criminals. This research will make an important contribution as we continue to roll out the regulatory framework. We must continue to ensure that prevention, harm reduction and education remain at the forefront of these efforts.”

The Honourable Bill Blair

Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction

“The CIHR Integrated Cannabis Research Strategy will ensure that a coordinated approach is used to fund research that will inform cannabis-related policies, programs and services. We aim to position Canada as a world leader in developing the capacity to carry out cannabis research and to translate the results efficiently into clinical practice, health policy, and public health programs.

Dr. Samuel Weiss

Scientific Director, CIHR Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health, and Addiction

“We have a responsibility to engage our communities about important societal issues, including cannabis use. Our researchers are working on numerous related projects to generate new evidence leading to a direct impact on the lives of Canadians.”

Dr. Dru Marshall

Provost and Vice-President (Academic), University of Calgary

“The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction is pleased to be working with CIHR to fund the Partnerships for Cannabis Policy Evaluation grants. These grants will connect researchers and policy-makers to identify effective practices in the regulation of cannabis, ultimately improving public health and public safety for Canadians.”

Ms. Rita Notarandrea

CEO, Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction

“Our newly legalized environment sets the stage for exciting research on how cannabis use affects mental health. The Mental Health Commission of Canada couldn’t ask for a better partner than CIHR to tackle this important work. Together, we look forward to bolstering the evidence-base, not only of the potential harms – but also the potential therapeutic benefits – of cannabis use. Our short and long-term projects will also shed light on how the social determinants of health interplay with mental health and cannabis use. This will be critical to informing the development of sound future health policy.”

Louise Bradley

President and CEO of the Mental Health Commission of Canada

Quick facts

  • The Government of Canada is taking a comprehensive public health approach to the legalization and regulation of cannabis.

  • As part of this approach, the Government of Canada is investing in research and public awareness initiatives.

  • The Canadian Institutes of Health Research, together with partners: the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, the Mental Health Commission of Canada, the Arthritis Society, the MS Society of Canada, and the Canadian Cancer Society have invested approximately $24.5 million under CIHR’s Integrated Cannabis Research Strategy, for research that will generate new evidence on the potential harms and therapeutic uses of cannabis and evaluate the effectiveness of government cannabis policies.

  • Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program has recently provided approximately $390,000 to two cannabis public awareness projects in Alberta.

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