Canadian scientists and business people have a leg up on the rest of the world, thanks to cannabis legalization.
The nation became the first G-7 country to legalize recreational use of marijuana earlier this fall. Doing so unleashes entrepreneurs to develop major companies devoted to cannabis. It also will open opportunities for scientists to study potential uses, benefits and harm from the plant.
The University of British Columbia has already benefited. Cannabis company Canopy Growth has given $2.5 million to the university, which has hired a pot professor to study the plant. According to the CBC:
M-J Milloy has been named the inaugural Canopy Growth Professor of Cannabis Science, a position that will carry the branding of the main benefactor but will remain arms-length and independent from the company, according to officials at the university.
It’s a research position intended to lead clinical trials into the potential of using cannabis to help people getting treatment for opioid use disorder.
That’s just the beginning of what’s likely to become a robust Canadian cannabis research apparatus, Amanda Siebert writes for the New York Times. According to Siebert:
Canada’s brand-new legislation, the Cannabis Act, replaces a restrictive system that treated researchers like would-be drug dealers. Scientists intending to cultivate their own plants can now simply apply for a specific class of license rather than toil for an exemption from the retrograde Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, which, among other demands, required criminal record checks.
The Canadian government, once unwilling to touch the stuff, has stepped up to properly examine how cannabis affects the body and brain. It’s funding 14 new studies and has set aside millions more for research grants that could ask questions like, Will a pregnant mother using cannabis harm her baby’s development? Does smoking affect drivers’ reaction time behind the wheel? And at what threshold does teenagers’ pot consumption become destructive?