Article by Lisa Johnson, Edmonton Journal
Lac Ste. Anne County — Edmonton-based Atlas Biotechnologies has partnered with the new International Phytomedicines and Medical Cannabis Institute at Harvard Medical School to study how cannabis can help chronic pain and neurological conditions.
“Our partnership will allow us to prove the efficacy of what these products can do,” says president and CEO Sheldon Croome.
Like many other licensed cannabis producers in Canada, the staff at subsidiary Atlas Growers’ production facility, about 90 km northwest of Edmonton in Lac Ste. Anne County, goes to work in hair nets, medical-style scrubs and latex gloves in a 38,000-square-foot highly secured cultivation facility to plant, harvest, dry, trim, mill, extract and package a fresh crop every two to three weeks.
But Atlas isn’t satisfied with simply growing plants, or processing them into extracts to sell. They want to know exactly what cannabis can do for the medical patients who are their customers.
The company will partner with the Harvard institute over at least three years, supplying cannabis products along with about $3 million, with the goal of conducting clinical trials beginning in 2020.
“We know medical cannabis has been recorded to have medicinal value for pain (and) neurological conditions for thousands of years. But the problem is that it is very anecdotal. Even the science is very conflicting,” says Will Ngwa, director of Harvard Global Health Catalyst and professor in radiation oncology at Harvard Medical school via videoconference.
“There is a deep value and opportunity right now, especially with the opioid crisis in North America right now, to look at this alternative,” he says.