Integrated Cannabis Research Strategy


May 2019

On October 17, 2018, the Cannabis Act came into force and put in place a new legislative and regulatory framework for Canada. By legalizing and strictly regulating cannabis, the Government of Canada is taking a public health approach, which includes raising awareness and educating Canadians about the health effects of cannabis use.

The Government of Canada is investing in research through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to provide new evidence on the potential harms and therapeutic uses of cannabis.

CIHR’s Integrated Cannabis Research Strategy consists of a well-coordinated series of activities that will develop research capacity and amass the evidence needed to maintain effective policies and regulations for cannabis use.

CIHR has implemented the first three activities:

1) Catalyst Grants: Cannabis Research in Urgent Priority Areas

In April 2019, CIHR and its partners approved the funding of 26 projects led by researchers across the country. These projects will cover areas where evidence is urgently needed such as the use of cannabis during pregnancy and the effect on child development, the use of cannabis for pain management, and the effect of cannabis on mental health.

The funded projects include:

  • Dr. Julia Knight at Mount Sinai Hospital’s Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute will investigate the relationship between exposure to cannabis during pregnancy and early life and child development. Researchers will ask mothers about cannabis use before and during pregnancy, and will check in with children when are 24 months and four years old. This study will give researchers an opportunity to investigate the effects of maternal cannabis use on children’s birth weight, brain development, and long-term health.
  • Dr. Farnaz Amoozegar at the University of Calgary will study the use of cannabis to prevent migraines
  • Dr. Sean Barrett at Dalhousie University will examine the use of cannabidiol to manage stress and anxiety in adults

Funding: $3.1 million

Funding partners: Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, Mental Health Commission of Canada

2) Team Grants: Cannabis Research in Priority Areas

In March 2019, CIHR and its partners launched a funding opportunity to support research teams in priority areas, including cancer therapy, mental health brain development, pain management, and symptom management in multiple sclerosis. The projects approved for funding will start in January 2020.

Funding: $16.5 million

Funding partners: Arthritis Society, Canadian Cancer Society, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, Mental Health Commission of Canada

3) Partnerships for Cannabis Policy Evaluation

In June 2019, CIHR, in partnership with the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, will launch a funding opportunity to support research partnerships involving health policy professionals and academic researchers. These partnerships will produce evidence to help governments develop, implement, and evaluate the effectiveness of cannabis policies.

Funding: $4.95 million

Funding partner: Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction 

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