Article by Viola Pruss, CBC News
As the federal government moves ahead with plans to legalize recreational marijuana use by July 2018, two universities in Fredericton are hiring the first two Canadian research chairs in the field.
The first health research chair in cannabis was announced at St. Thomas University in May, while the University of New Brunswick announced Wednesday plans to hire someone with the same title.
The St. Thomas chair will research policy development, socio-economic and health-related issues related to cannabis use. UNB’s chair will focus on pharmacological sciences and conduct preclinical pharmacology studies, said David MacGee, UNB’s acting vice-president of research.
“The industry is brand new in Canada and growing,” said MacGee. “And I think everybody wants to ensure that the proper steps are taken and the proper controls are put into place and part of that is doing appropriate research to see what the effects may be.”
Funding from pharmaceutical companies
Funding for both positions is provided by the province, as well as Shoppers Drug Mart for the St. Thomas position and Tetra Bio-Pharma Inc., for UNB’s chair.
The universities will receive $1 million each over five years, with $500,000 provided by each company.
Asked whether funding from a pharmaceutical company may interfere with the work of the chair, MacGee said there is no specific connection between the chair’s research and the interests of the industry partner.
Andre Rancourt with Tetra Bio-Pharma said that the company, which is developing a marijuana-based prescription drug for pain treatment, will benefit from the research of the chair because very little data is available on the use of medical marijuana.