With cannabis legalization on the horizon next year, the federal government must make it easier to study the potential medical benefits of the drug and evaluate how ending prohibition might affect society, according to an open letter to politicians from dozens of the country’s leading academics and public-health researchers who study the drug.
“Under widespread global prohibition, cannabis research has been limited by the criminalization and stigmatization of cannabis use and users, leading to substantial gaps in knowledge around the harms and benefits of both medical and non-medical cannabis,” reads a letter sent Monday to federal lawmakers on the letterhead of the BC Centre on Substance Use, an organization funded by the provincial government to study drugs.
“For example, although cannabis’ role as a pain reliever is increasingly well known, urgent questions remain about what effect increasing access to medical cannabis might play in the response to the ongoing opioid overdose crisis. Now is the time to ensure biomedical, epidemiological, and social sciences cannabis research is prioritized; supported with adequate funding; and facilitated through reduced administrative barriers.”
The letter was signed by noted researchers such as Julio Montaner, a renowned HIV/AIDS researcher, and Mark Ware, a McGill pain researcher and vice-chair of Canada’s recent federal panel on legalization, as well as organizations such as the BC Cancer Agency and the Canadian AIDS Society.
Uruguay is the only other country to have legalized the recreational sale and use of marijuana, but sales have been slow to roll out and the tiny South American country has a population