The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) is partnering with four other Canadian health organizations to bridge the research gap on cannabis use in under-represented populations.
On Tuesday, the government agency said an investment of $2 million will be put towards 18 research projects focusing on cannabis use among BIPOC, 2SLGBTQ+, veterans and individuals living with severe mental illness.
The other partners are the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Canadian Consortium for Early Intervention in Psychosis (CCEIP), the Schizophrenia Society of Canada Foundation and Veterans Affairs Canada.
“To gain a clear understanding of the mental health impacts of cannabis use in Canada, we must include representation from all areas of the population — particularly from those communities who are frequently overlooked in research,” MHCC president Michel Rodrigue said in a statement.
With these new projects, the agency hopes to help answer important questions in the existing research and inform the development of future larger-scale projects, he added.
The MHCC leads the development of new medical programs and tools to support mental health and wellness in Canadians.
A study by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health will explore weed’s influence on BIPOC communities’ lifestyle. It will also look at research and policy related to the legalization of cannabis, given that the industry is dominated by white-led businesses.
Other funded projects will examine cannabis use and mental health challenges in sexually and gender-diverse youth, to address gaps in services and community resources.
Dr. Samuel Weiss, neurosciences branch director at CIHR says the research will identify knowledge gaps, strengthen the evidence base, as well as inform future projects and policy.
The Native Women’s Association of Canada will explore the impact of cannabis use on mental health in Indigenous women to address the current need for information in this area.
Participants will be cannabis users across Canada to ensure that people with lived experience are involved in all stages of the research.
Some of the projects will be led by researchers at Dalhousie University, the University of Western Ontario, the University of Alberta and the University of Victoria.
“Taken together, these projects will help build a more inclusive evidence base that doesn’t only account for diversity, but embraces it,” reads the statement.