Mental Health Commission of Canada and partners invest $2 million towards researching mental health effects of cannabis use

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The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) and its partners have announced the investment of $2 million toward targeted research on the mental health effects of cannabis use among diverse populations in Canada.

The joint investment will fund 18 research projects with a focus on subpopulations that are under-represented in current research.

Other organizations backing the investment include the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Canadian Consortium for Early Intervention in Psychosis (CCEIP), the Schizophrenia Society of Canada Foundation and Veterans Affairs Canada.

“To gain a clear understanding of the mental health impacts of cannabis use in Canada, we must include representation from all areas of the population — particularly from those communities who are frequently overlooked in research,” said MHCC president and CEO Michel Rodrigue. “With these new projects, we hope to help answer important questions in the existing research and inform the development of future larger-scale projects.”

Lawrence MacAulay, veteran affairs minister and associate minister of national defence, said the research is vital to improve the supports and programs offered to veterans. “We’ll be able to make better decisions by exploring the impact of cannabis on areas like PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) or the mental health and quality of life of our veterans, and Veterans Affairs Canada is proud to be providing funding as a partner in this important research,” MacAulay said.

Last August, Avail Cannabis announced it was launching an observational study about PTSD among Canadian military vets, including determining “the optimal cannabinoid profile and therapeutic dose of medical cannabis oil.”

According to Veterans Affairs Canada, it is estimated that up to 10 per cent of war zone veterans — including war-service veterans and peacekeeping forces — will experience PTSD.

Other companies, like Mydecine Innovations Group Inc., are also researching the efficacy of psilocybin and psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy to treat veterans and first-responders with a PTSD indication.

Other groups included in the projects are racialized and Indigenous communities, 2SLGBTQ+ communities and individuals experiencing mental illness.

“This important research will identify knowledge gaps, strengthen the evidence base and inform future projects and policy,” said Dr. Samuel Weiss, scientific director at the CIHR Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction.

“These research teams will accomplish this in partnership with people who use cannabis — ensuring that people with lived and living experience of cannabis use are meaningfully involved in all phases and stages, including research design, execution, knowledge translation and dissemination, and evaluation,” Dr. Weiss added.

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