Today, the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), in collaboration with the University of Calgary, released an important report, Cannabis and Mental Health: Priorities for Research in Canada, which highlights new opportunities to better understand the complex relationship between mental health and cannabis use.
A team of experts from the University of Calgary examined existing research around cannabis use and mental health outcomes — and the results point to exciting avenues for greater understanding in the context of Canada’s newly legalized and regulated environment. Understudied areas include why people engage in cannabis use, how they use it, and how often — questions that can now be asked without the ethical concerns that were constraining research before non-medical cannabis use became legal.
The report highlights the importance of conducting more specific research and considering the value of lived experience in assessing mental health outcomes — potentially the key to a deeper understanding of the relationship between cannabis use and mental health. The report also draws attention to the need for more research exploring where casual and moderate use could bring potential benefits.
Given that Canada is only the second country in the world to legalize cannabis, there is a responsibility and an opportunity to pursue neglected areas of research to create the best understanding of its relation to mental health by focusing on an understanding of the complex context of cannabis use.
“The MHCC is pleased to have worked with the University of Calgary to release this new report, which lays the foundation for us to better understand the relationship between cannabis use and mental health. The results of this report will help inform and set new research priorities in Canada.”
— Ed Mantler, Vice-President, Programs and Priorities, Mental Health Commission of Canada
“We just have a very natural competitive advantage now to be able to really lead this field, and then on the flip-side of it, we have a social responsibility with being the first major western country to legalize cannabis. It is our responsibility as scientists to learn as much as we can and to help those that I predict will come after us, too.”
— Fiona Clement, PhD, lead researcher, O’Brien Institute member, and associate professor with the University of Calgary Department of Community Health Sciences
Mental Health Commission of Canada, Media Relations
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