The head of a Saskatoon-based medical marijuana supplier says legalization of pot won’t have a large impact on scientific and medical research.
Speaking at a University of Saskatchewan symposium of the legalization of marijuana, CanniMed president Brent Zettl says research into the medical effects of cannabis has been permitted in Canada for more than a decade, but social and political pressures have stunted progress.
“This particular plant and its active ingredients have been stymied and withheld from being developed into modern day science,” he said. “If you want to tame the shrew and you want to make it in terms of a true medicine, you have to treat, produce and deliver it like a medicine.”
Zettl said scientists must look at medical marijuana the same way they would research any potential drug.
However, Zettl suggested an open market on medical marijuana would create greater incentive for investors to put dollars towards research of different strains of the plant and their targeted effects.
“The dollars going into (research) have been less volume simply because of hesitation of where’s the mark going to be,” he said.
The university symposium was held to discuss the issues that surround the legalization of marijuana. They follow a recent British Columbia court decision to declare some medical marijuana laws including those that restricted patients from growing their own plants as unconstitutional. The court gave the government six months to draft new laws. Now the government must either comply or file an appeal with the Supreme Court of Canada.
Zettl took part to discuss the roll of medical education.
“We’re just trying to make sure that the voice, rationale and what needs to be done for medical access… comes out in the debate and that we do try to draw the line between medical and recreational access,” he said. “The recreational debate relative to the medical debate tends to muddy the waters.”
He said even if marijuana was legalized, society must also consider how patients will access the drug despite financial barriers and whether they are accessing the right strain of marijuana for their needs.
With files from CKOM News’ Bre McAdam