Cannabis Innovation Summit Launches U of T Research Consortium – LPC
A new consortium of over 50 University of Toronto researchers will launch on April 6 at the Cannabis Innovation Summit. The Toronto Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research Consortium (TC3) was announced as part of MaRS Health Innovation Week.
Dr. Ruth Ross, a professor and chair of the pharmacology and toxicology department, is on the TC3 steering committee. She said that researchers are all U of T professors or affiliated with academic hospitals in Toronto. The goal is to promote cannabis innovation, especially around health.
“There is lots of cannabis and related work going on at U of T,” Dr. Ross said. “We’re really focused on cannabis and cannabinoid research that pertains to health, so the related benefits, safety and potential harms.”
She said cannabis innovation research will fall under three separate categories. Chemistry and biology research learn more about how cannabis works. Clinical research will learn more about how cannabinoids can help patients. Public health research will study the impacts of cannabis on the overall health of our citizens.
“The landscape is changing very quickly with the legalization of cannabis,” Dr. Ross said. “For Canada to lead the way we need robust, world-class research, quickly translated to drive the public health agenda. We’re very well-positioned in Toronto to do that.”
Industry Can Help Lead the Way in Cannabis Research – LPC
Dr. Ross said that industry could help fund cannabis innovation. Possible funding scenarios include partnerships with research teams and through a portion of tax revenue, which Washington State implemented.
“Research is expensive, particularly clinical research to demonstrate safety and efficacy,” Dr. Ross said. She liked the idea of the tax-based model happening in Washington State. “We could conceivably set up a similar structure or non-profit organization that could direct research funding in Canada.”
Canada has the potential to take the global lead on cannabis research. Already, another cannabis research project is underway in Toronto, studying the effects of cannabis as an opioid replacement for ex-NHLers. Companies such as Aleafia do their own research. Aleafia Campus Labs and Aleafia Campus Research both are focussed on the benefits of medical cannabis.
Dr. Ross said that one of the most exciting areas of cannabis innovation is the endocannabinoid system.
“We’re starting to understand the endocannabinoid system, which was only discovered in 1992. This is fabulously interesting science,” she said. “It will be crucial in creating therapies that are safe and effective and to minimizing the potential harms of cannabis.”