BC Centre on Substance Use hosts inaugural Cannabis Science Symposium

published on November 25, 2019

Dr. M-J Milloy, the Canopy Growth Professor of Cannabis Science at the University of British Columbia (UBC) is proud to bring together patients and other people with lived and living experience with researchers, clinicians, and policymakers for the inaugural Cannabis Science Symposium with the goal of establishing a research agenda for cannabis and harm reduction during the overdose crisis.

The one-day public research symposium is organized by the BC Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU) and UBC with support from Spectrum Therapeutics, the medical division of Canopy Growth Corporation.

In the midst of an ongoing overdose crisis impacting communities across Canada and the United States, new measures are needed to prevent overdose-related morbidity and mortality, especially among people living with substance use disorders and common comorbidities, such as chronic pain. A growing wealth of preliminary evidence suggests cannabis might be a beneficial harm reduction-based intervention. This research symposium will gather expertise to discuss the latest evidence, reflect on the current responses to the overdose crisis, and establish next steps to advance knowledge, policy and practice around cannabis for harm reduction.

“The therapeutic benefits of cannabis are only just beginning to be understood. Early research has shown that it could have a stabilizing impact for people with opioid use disorder, improving their quality of life and offering a pathway to long-term treatment solutions,” says Dr. Milloy, who is also a research scientist at BCCSU. “We have a scientific imperative to build upon this research and ensure that research is guided by the experiences of those living and responding to the overdose crisis.”

“This first Cannabis Science Symposium provides an important forum for researchers, healthcare professionals, community stakeholders and those with lived experience to exchange knowledge, ideas and first-hand experience on the potential of cannabis in addressing the overdose crisis,” commented Dr. Mark Ware, Chief Medical Officer, Canopy Growth. “Solutions are still desperately needed and we’re committed to doing our part to help affected individuals, families and communities.”

The Canopy Growth Professorship of Cannabis Science was established via a $2.5 million donation from Canopy Growth to UBC and the BCCSU to fund clinical research aimed at defining the potential benefits of cannabis as a legitimate therapeutic treatment for opioid use disorder. Upon the announcement of Dr. Milloy as the first Canopy Growth Professor of Cannabis Science, he along with his team performed a comprehensive review of existing studies examining the role of cannabis in addressing opioid use disorder to help inform the direction of the clinical trials to be conducted as part of the Professorship.

In their most recent study, where researchers from the BCCSU and UBC interviewed more than 1,100 people at highest risk of opioid overdose in Vancouver between 2014 and 2017, it was found that people who used cannabis at least daily had nearly 50 per cent lower odds of using illicit opioids at least daily compared to cannabis non-users. Through their research to date, the BCCSU has demonstrated that the evidence, which continues to accumulate, supports further evaluation of the therapeutic benefits of cannabis for opioid use disorder.

2019 Cannabis Science Symposium
“Cannabis and harm reduction: What we know and what we need to learn”
Monday, November 25, 8:30AM – 1:30PM (Pacific Time)
UBC Robson Square – 800 Robson St

The symposium is sold out, however the event will be broadcasted via webinar. Those interested can register here.