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As the first G-7 nation to slacken cannabis laws, Canada has bolted to the front lines of the plant’s methodical scrutiny and investigation. Research multiplied again in 2014, when commercial growers got clearance to supply mail-order medical marijuana to Canadian patients, commodification that simultaneously energized corporate interests.
Canada’s brand-new legislation, the Cannabis Act, replaces a restrictive system that treated researchers like would-be drug dealers. It’s funding 14 new studies and has set aside millions more for research grants that could ask questions like, Will a pregnant mother using cannabis harm her baby’s development? The country has become “the de facto source of research-grade cannabis around the world,” contends Philippe Lucas, who is the head of research for the Canadian producer Tilray, which has completed exports to 10 countries.
Canada’s grand experiment has already been a catalyst for smarter science in the United States, where its federal prohibition has choked research. Although 33 states have relaxed their marijuana laws, only one facility in Mississippi is federally licensed to supply dried cannabis, and its product is often derided by researchers as lackluster.
Enter Tilray, which, in a rare first this September, was approved by the Drug Enforcement Administration to supply cannabis extract from Canada to a California neurologist who’s developing a treatment for tremors in the elderly. The metrics could enable jurisdictions worldwide to devise policy reforms and public health programs that minimize legalization’s potentially negative impacts.
The scholarship on cannabis will finally advance now that a developed, Western society has welcomed back an ancient drug plant, says Jonathan Page, a Vancouver-based plant biologist and a leader of the cannabis genome project. Therapeutic marijuana application dates back thousands of years, according to archaeological and historical records