May 23, 2019

Government of Canada invests in new cannabis research and public awareness programs

Funding will support three University of Calgary research projects and an awareness café

The Government of Canada is investing in 26 cannabis research projects across the country including three at the University of Calgary as part of an ongoing commitment to generate evidence on the potential therapeutic benefits and harms associated with cannabis use, and promote guidelines for lower-risk use.

On Wednesday, the Honourable Bill Blair, minister of border security and organized crime reduction, visited UCalgary to announce $24.5 million in funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and partners to support research that will explore the potential harms and therapeutic uses of cannabis, and policy evaluation research. Blair is pictured above.

“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,” says Blair. “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 University of Calgary has more than 30 researchers leading cannabis and endocannabinoid system projects, who are based in six faculties: Arts, Education, Medicine, Nursing, Science and Veterinary Medicine. 

Samantha Baglot, left, University of Calgary graduate student and neuroscience researcher, with Rebecca Haines-Saah, assistant professor at the Cumming School of Medicine.

Samantha Baglot, left, graduate student and researcher, and Rebecca Haines-Saah, assistant professor

Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

“We have a responsibility to engage our communities about important societal issues, including cannabis use. Our researchers are working on numerous cannabis related projects to generate new evidence leading to a direct impact on the lives of Canadians,” says Dru Marshall, provost and vice-president (academic), University of Calgary.

The three UCalgary researchers receiving funds include:

This research is funded under CIHR’s Integrated Cannabis Research Strategy.

“The CIHR Integrated Cannabis Research Strategy will ensure that a co-ordinated approach is used to fund research that will inform cannabis-related policies, programs and services,” says Dr. Samuel Weiss, scientific director, CIHR Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health, and Addiction.

Karim Khan, scientific director, Institute of Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis, Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Karim Khan, scientific director, Institute of Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis.

Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

The research already being done at UCalgary has been recognized nationally and internationally, with thought leaders from our university involved in critical roles in the development of public policy and funding documents prior to legalization.

The best public health policies are built upon a strong foundation of data and evidence. At the Cumming School of Medicine this is what we provide and this investment in research will end up creating better public health,” says Dr. Jon Meddings, dean, Cumming School of Medicine.

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. UCalgary is receiving funding to support the UCalgary Cannabis Café: Conversation and Information Series, delivered by the Campus Mental Health Strategy. The café is designed to support university students’ transition into the era of legalized cannabis and increase their knowledge of lower-risk recreational cannabis, and appropriate medicinal cannabis use.

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