Bill Blair announces $24.5 million in funding for cannabis research

The federal point man on legalization announced a swell in funding on Wednesday

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 On Wednesday (May 22), Canada’s point man on legalization Bill Blair met with researchers at the University of Calgary to announce a swell in funding for cannabis research.

The minister of organized crime reduction and former Toronto police chief says $24.5 million from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research is allotted to studying cannabis use and its effects.

“That research across the country is going to help Canadians make healthier, safer choices, it’s going to help our kids,” Blair told reporters.

The money will finance 26 projects across the country, including over $500,000 allocated to the research department at the university where the announcement was made.

Dr. Rebecca Haines-Saah, an assistant professor at U of C, will head the project and says her institution’s studies seek to explore the role of cannabis in treating migraines and hyperemesis, as well as various youth harm reduction methods.

"We've known for some time that “just say no” is not an effective strategy," she told the media.

"Now, we're trying to mobilize different messages.”

Haines-Saah says she wants her research, which is expected to be complete by April 2020, to investigate reducing youth exposure in marginalized communities.

“We need the work of these researchers,” added Blair.

“We need evidence-based information in policy so that those discussions can be informed not by myth, and not by people who are just trying to make a buck off the most vulnerable people in our society, but by people who care about our kids and care about our communities."

He also announced three additional sources of funding:

  • $4.5 million from the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction to investigate the impact of new drug laws on public health;
  • $2.85 million from the Mental Health Commission of Canada to fill gaps in research;
  • And $390,000 allocated to two public awareness campaigns in Alberta.

With this recent surge of funding, Canada is set to join countries long-since invested in cannabinoid research, like Isreal, Spain, and the Netherlands.

“It makes us a leader in the world because the world is looking to Canada, [which] is now a place where research can take place,” said Blair.

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