Legal Pot Will Mean a Boom in Canadian Cannabis Research

published on August 20, 2018 by Alastair Spriggs in The Tyee

For decades in Canada, cannabis has been a controlled substance in the eyes of the government and as tough for legitimate scientists to obtain as other illegal drugs.

Scientists and researchers must obtain an exemption from Health Canada’s Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to use cannabis for research purposes that include analytical and genetic testing in controlled environments and administration to animals or humans in a clinical trial.

“It’s on par with heroine and crack cocaine,” said Dr. M-J Milloy, a research scientist with the Vancouver-based BC Centre on Substance Use. “Only a few scientists have able to carry out this research due to the restrictive regulations.”

That’s going to change Oct. 17 when cannabis becomes legal.

Though cannabis has been under prohibition in Canada since April 23, 1923, its entry into the legal market is predicted to generate close to $6.5 billion annually in retail sales by 2020, according to a report by CIBC analysts. This number would exceed the $5.1 billion spirits market, and will come close to the $7 billion spent on wine.

Milloy argues that both recreational and medical forms of cannabis have not been taken seriously up until now. He says the drug’s entry into the legal market will make clinical research easier to conduct, and cannabis itself will be much more accessible.

“The landscape for cannabis is changing in Canada,” Milloy said. “There are more bodies who are willing and able to fund the research necessary to understand cannabis better.”

According to Dr. Jonathan Page, CEO and co-founder of Vancouver-based Anandia Labs, legalization will boost the immediacy and importance of cannabis research, primarily in its biological, sensory, clinical and societal impact.

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