Scientists in Canada: Legal Marijuana Will Open up Scientific Research

Strict regulations meant that past studies focused on harm rather than on cannabis's medical benefits. That will change.
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As cannabis becomes legal at the stroke of midnight in every time zone in Canada on October 17, 2018, medical researchers are ready to undertake more research and are hoping there will be more corporate money to go around.

Legal pot is going to mean a shift in how scientists study cannabis and what they study, says Dr. M.J. Milloy, a research scientist with British Columbia Centre on Substance Use.

“With the advent of the cannabis market and cannabis producers, some of them have taken the lead in funding research,” said Dr. Milloy. “Research funding for science and for academics has always been competitive, and it remains very competitive.”

Acknowledging the potential industry influence in academia and research, Milloy said that protections are in place to make sure that researchers do the science and report it honestly, “wherever it takes us.”

While he noted that many researchers and scientists will by competing for funds, Milloy says universities are well-versed in maintaining independence while receiving corporate dollars.

Much like in the United States where researchers’ hands are tied by the DEA and federal government stubbornly keeping cannabis classified as a Schedule 1 drug, Milloy said that in Canada strict regulations have meant that past studies on cannabis have focused on harm rather than on its medical benefits.

The hope is that with Canada’s historic legalization, the government will lift regulations and fund studies revealing cannabis’s numerous benefits.

“It’s easier to for researchers to grow, to amass and administer cannabis,” Milloy said, according to GlobalNewsCa. “That will be good news not only for people like me in the medical sphere but also my colleagues in botany who are interested in learning more about the cannabis plant and other fields of scientific inquiry.”

Milloy says researchers are excited.

“The real excitement around legalization is that we’ll finally be able to paint the whole picture of cannabis, not only the possible risks and harms that it presents to people but also the possible benefits.”

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