CIHR and health partners invest more than $21 million in cannabis research 

News release

November 26, 2020 – Ottawa, ON – Canadian Institutes of Health Research

The Government of Canada legalized and regulated the non-medical use of cannabis in October 2018. As part of an ongoing commitment to generate evidence on the health and safety effects of cannabis, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and six health partners are investing more than $21 million to fund cannabis research to advance our understanding of the potential benefits and harms of cannabis use.  

CIHR and its partners (Arthritis Society, Canadian Cancer Society, Mental Health Commission of Canada, MS Society of Canada, Veterans Affairs Canada) have invested $19.3 million to support researchers who will explore the potential therapeutic benefits and harms associated with cannabis use in areas such as cancer, pain, neurodevelopment and Indigenous Peoples’ health. These focus areas were identified through stakeholder consultations.

An additional $2.45 million from the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction is going towards evaluating the public health and public safety impacts of different provincial or territorial policies related to cannabis.

These investments are part of CIHR’s Integrated Cannabis Research Strategy (ICRS), which provides a well-coordinated series of activities that position Canada as a leader in supporting the advancement and translation of scientific knowledge on cannabis.


“As the Government of Canada’s federal funding agency for health research, the creation of new knowledge and its translation into improved health for Canadians is at the core of our mandate. This initiative, developed in close collaboration with our partners, is a key component of our integrated cannabis research strategy and will serve to inform future cannabis-related policy that protects the health and safety of Canadians. And it speaks directly to the strength and depth of commitment of the Canadian health research ecosystem to tackle such critical and timely issues on the health impacts of cannabis use.”

Dr. Michael J. Strong
President, Canadian Institutes of Health Research

“There remain many unknowns about the use of cannabis, specifically its health and safety effects. This research and the Integrated Cannabis Research Strategy will ensure a coordinated, thorough approach to developing and translating new knowledge on cannabis to inform policies, programs and services in Canada. This will be valuable for governments, public health professionals, health care providers and all Canadians to regulate, prescribe and use cannabis safely.”

Dr. Samuel Weiss
Scientific Director, CIHR Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction

“We know many people with arthritis are turning to medical cannabis to help alleviate their chronic pain, which can be debilitating. But we also know there are many unanswered questions about the use of medical cannabis to treat arthritis symptoms. We’re delighted to co-fund this project with CIHR to help answer some of those questions.”

Trish Barbato,
President and CEO of the Arthritis Society

“The Canadian Cancer Society is pleased to partner with CIHR to fund innovative new research on the potential benefits and harms of cannabis use for people with cancer. The outcomes of this research will provide much needed evidence to guide healthcare providers, people with cancer and their families in making informed decisions about their health and wellbeing.”

Dr. Stuart Edmonds
Executive Vice President, Mission, Research and Advocacy, Canadian Cancer Society

“The CCSA is pleased to partner with CIHR and support the Partnerships for Cannabis Policy Evaluation Team Grants. The five cutting-edge research projects funded through this initiative will evaluate the impact of cannabis legalization and regulation from various perspectives. As we approach year three of the legalization of cannabis for recreational purposes, the findings from this research are not only timely, but vital to support public health and safety evidence-based policy and practice and reflects CCSA's commitment to evidence, engagement and impact.”

Rita Notarandrea
CEO, Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction

“The MS Society has always emphasized the need for continued investment in research to study the effects of cannabis. The trial that was selected as part of this partnership provides an opportunity to ensure there are effective evidence-informed treatment options to support symptom management.”

Dr. Pamela Valentine
President and CEO, MS Society of Canada

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Media Relations
Canadian Institutes of Health Research

At the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) we know that research has the power to change lives. As Canada's health research investment agency, we collaborate with partners and researchers to support the discoveries and innovations that improve our health and strengthen our health care system.

About the Arthritis Society
The Arthritis Society is Canada’s national charity dedicated to creating a world where people are free from the devastating effects of arthritis. The passion to alleviate suffering that inspired our founders in 1948 continues to drive us today. Thanks to the trust and support of our donors and volunteers, the Arthritis Society is the largest charitable funder of cutting-edge arthritis research in Canada and a leader in proactive advocacy, innovative information and support that delivers better health outcomes for the people we serve. The Arthritis Society is accredited under Imagine Canada’s Standards Program. For more information, to make a donation or to volunteer, visit

About the Canadian Cancer Society
The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) is the only national charity that supports Canadians with all cancers in communities across the country. No other organization does what we do; we are the voice for Canadians who care about cancer. We fund groundbreaking research, provide a support system for all those affected by cancer and shape health policies to prevent cancer and support those living with the disease. 

Help us make a difference. Call 1-888-939-3333 or visit today.

About the Canadian Centre for Substance Use and Addiction
CCSA was created by Parliament to provide national leadership to address substance use in Canada. A trusted counsel, we provide national guidance to decision makers by harnessing the power of research, curating knowledge and bringing together diverse perspectives.

About the Mental Health Commission of Canada
The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) is a non-profit organization created to focus national attention on mental health issues and to work to improve the health and social outcomes of people living with mental illness.

About Multiple Sclerosis and the MS Society of Canada
Canada has one of the highest rates of multiple sclerosis in the world. On average, 11 Canadians are diagnosed every day. MS is a chronic autoimmune disease of the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord). It is considered an episodic disease meaning that the severity and duration of illness and disability can vary and are often followed by periods of wellness. Most people are diagnosed with MS between the ages of 20 and 49 and the unpredictable effects of the disease will last for the rest of their lives. The MS Society provides information, support and advocacy to people affected by MS, and funds research to find the cause and cure for the disease, bringing us closer to a world free of MS. Please visit or call 1-800-268-7582 for more information, to get involved, or to support Canadians affected by MS by making a donation.

About Veterans Affairs Canada
Veterans Affairs Canada's mandate is to support the well-being of Veterans and their families, and to promote recognition and remembrance of the achievements and sacrifices of those who served Canada in times of war, military conflict and peace.  For information on our programs and services, visit

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