Liberal government grant for pot research should’ve come earlier, researchers say

published on January 28, 2018 by Kate AllenScience and Technology Reporter in The Star

Marijuana researchers say they don’t have time to collect data before legalization begins in a few months.

Pot czar Liberal MP Bill Blair appeared at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health on Wednesday morning to announce the winners of a $1.4 million cannabis research grant — money that scientists say is necessary, but also too little and too late.

“The money was announced today. There’s no realistic way to begin gathering data before legalization happens,” said M-J Milloy, a research scientist at the B.C. Centre on Substance Use and an investigator on one of the 14 winning projects. Without a proper baseline, Milloy and others said, it will be difficult to gauge the success or failure of any policy changes.

“What do you compare any data that you gather after legalization to?”

Milloy and others said the funding was welcome but insufficient: $100,000 over a year is a fraction of the typical CIHR grant, which in 2017 was an average of $720,534 over 4.38 years. But they also said that underfunding of CIHR generally is part of the problem. The success rate for those larger “open” grants was just 15 per cent last year.

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