With legalization quickly approaching Canada is about to step into uncharted territory. One of the most precarious elements of legalization is the understanding of cannabis from a medical perspective. And experts believe that more research is the only way to know what health effects cannabis will have on citizens.
According to CBC, MP Bill Blair, the governments go-to man on pot, had this to say, “I think we need to continue to work hard to identify what is a safe level of use, what effects this could have. We have a lot of anecdotal evidence and frankly not a lot of good health evidence to help people make healthy choices.”
And indeed, cannabis being an illegal substance has made it next to impossible to study. Fortunately, the new federal budget allocated $20 million over the next five years to be split between the Mental Health Commission of Canada and the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and Addiction.
In addition, the budget has set aside a billion dollars to be used by Canada’s three granting councils, including the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) for the general research of cannabis.
Dr. Samuel Weiss, the scientific director of neurosciences, mental health and addiction at CIHR has a few particular areas of study he feels are very significant. “Understanding the impact that cannabis has on neurodevelopmental outcomes, for example — preconception, pregnancy, the fetus, and child and youth brain development,” he said.
There’s also concern surrounding cannabis addiction, as well as all the new methods of consumption available. Hopefully, this and more will be covered in the course of the five years of funded study. Dr. Benedikt Fischer, a senior scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto put it best when he said. “We’re stepping a little into the dark, into the fog, with this step forward for legalization”.