MS Society of Canada is investing $1.5M in cannabis research

The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada has announced a partnership with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to provide $1.5 million in funding for cannabis and MS research.

According to a release, the funding will go towards research into the use of cannabis to manage symptoms associated with MS and its effect on the disease.

“The MS Society is pleased to invest in this first-of-its-kind funding opportunity in Canadian MS research,” said Dr. Pamela Valentine, president and CEO, MS Society of Canada.

“As an organization, we have a mandate to provide information that is rooted in evidence. Cannabis is still a relatively unknown substance from the perspective of evidence-based research, so investing in research on cannabis use is an important first step for determining its applicability and efficacy towards managing MS.”

The announcement is part of an Integrated Cannabis Research Strategy (ICRS) involving the following partner agencies: The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), Institute of Circulatory and Respiratory Health (ICRH), Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health (IHDCYH), Institute of Indigenous Peoples’ Health (IIPH), Institute of Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis (IMHA) and the Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction (INMHA) in partnership with the Arthritis Society, Canadian Cancer Society, MS Society of Canada and the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC).

The MS Society says the $1.5 million investment will span over five years to help accelerate cannabis health research in MS. Applications involving basic science, clinical, health services and policy research approaches will be considered.

“There are many unknowns about the health and safety effects of cannabis, as well as the behavioural, social, ethical and economic implications of legalization,” according to an MS Society release. “A number of reports have highlighted the need for enhanced research evidence to inform policy, therapeutic practice, prevention efforts and the risks and harms of cannabis. Due to the previously illegal status of cannabis in Canada, investment in cannabis research has been limited. Legalization of non-medical use of cannabis in October 2018, has increased the need for evidence-based information and enabled such research to expand, offering Canada the unique opportunity to be an international leader in cannabis research.”

The deadline for letters of intent is May 15, 2019. Visit researchnet.ca for more information.

Canada has one of the highest rates of multiple sclerosis in the world with 11 Canadians diagnosed with MS every day. MS is a chronic often disabling disease of the central nervous system comprising the brain, spinal cord and optic nerve.

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