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Closing the Research Gap on Cannabis and Mental Health

Canada is just the second country in the world to legalize cannabis for non-medical use. This decision offers researchers an unprecedented opportunity to study the impacts of cannabis use in a legalized environment— including its effects on mental health. To seize that opportunity, the federal government has allocated $10 million to the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) over the next five years to investigate the risks and benefits of cannabis as well as the varying needs of diverse subpopulations of people living in Canada.

Key areas for additional research

Our goal over the next five years—and beyond—is to fill knowledge gaps related to cannabis and its impact on mental health. Key questions include:

What factors predict an increased risk of developing mental health problems and illnesses (including psychosis) among individuals who use cannabis?

Has legalizing non-medical cannabis affected the prevalence of mental illness?

Has legalizing non-medical cannabis affected the prevalence of cannabis use disorder? Has it affected the prevalence of other substance use disorders?

Can cannabis and cannabinoids be used to treat the symptoms of certain mental health problems and illnesses, such as anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder?

Existing research shows that risks associated with cannabis use are affected by the age of initiation, frequency, and method of use and by the ratio and concentration of the cannabinoids (e.g., tetrahydrocannabinol [THC] versus cannabidiol [CBD]) most frequently used.

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