Group calls on Ottawa to puff $25M into medical marijuana research
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TORONTO — A group comprised of doctors, patients, health charities and scientists is urging Ottawa to invest $25 million over the next five years for research into the health effects and potential therapeutic benefits of medical marijuana.
In a report released Wednesday, the Medical Cannabis Research Roundtable highlighted the lack of reliable, peer-reviewed Canadian-based research into marijuana as a potential treatment for a variety of diseases and conditions.
"As our country embarks on a debate about the legalization of recreational marijuana, we should not lose sight of the need to invest in medical science and proper trials to better understand the impacts and effects of medical cannabis," roundtable chairman Dr. Jason McDougall, a professor of pharmacology and anesthesia at Dalhousie University in Halifax, said in a statement.
"Physicians and patients are left with uncertainty about the potential therapeutic benefits of medical cannabis and particularly the potential to bring relief to those living with chronic pain."
The group identified three priorities for funding:
— Basic science: To have a better understanding of how medical cannabis affects disease progression, physiological function and is processed by the body.
— Clinical science: Peer-reviewed studies that focus on safety, efficacy, dosing and administration of medical marijuana.
— Health services and policy: Exploring issues such as equitable access to medical cannabis; how to manage and market medical marijuana in the context of legalization; transferring knowledge about the product to health providers and the public; and its social and economic impacts.
The Arthritis Society, a member of the group, also announced the creation of the Medical Cannabis Strategic Operating Grant, an annual commitment of at least $120,000 towards research into the effects of medical marijuana.
The charitable organization is also doubling its commitment to medical cannabis research to $720,000 over the next three years.
"Patients with chronic conditions seeking relief face unfair barriers due to the lack of proper medical research (into cannabis)," said president and CEO Janet Yale.
"The election of a new government that has voiced its support for science and evidence-based policy-making creates an ideal opportunity to commit to the sort of rigorous understanding of medical cannabis that should have occurred long ago."