Did you know that…Canada is only the second country in the world to legalize cannabis for both medical and recreational purposes? On October 17, 2018, Canada became the first G20 country to legalize recreational cannabis in what has been dubbed as “Canada’s grand cannabis experiment.” For this reason, Canadian researchers have a unique opportunity to put cannabis “to the test” and establish international precedents on cannabis use. 

Did you know that…cannabis is one of humanity’s oldest cultivated plants? For centuries, cultures from around the globe have used cannabis to treat common ailments as diverse as sleep, nausea, insomnia and pain. With the current battle against the addictive and deadly effects of opioids, cannabis may be the key in providing sustainable, long-term pain relief to the thousands of Canadians who suffer from chronic pain.  


Issues surrounding legality and social stigma have prevented much-needed research on cannabis. Like much of the world, Canada is tentative in embracing cannabis for medicinal purposes. As social stigma lingers in the minds of Canadians, the absence of robust clinical trials, misinformation and concerns about safety have hampered scientific progress.

With its “plants-to-policy” philosophy, the newly-established McGill Research Centre for Cannabis is ready to lead the “cannabis revolution.” With more than 55 investigators whose expertise spans plant science, production and processing; disease models/preclinical research, drug development and clinical trials; social implications; and health and economic impact studies for policies and laws, the Centre aims to become the global leader in cannabis research. In other words, the world is watching—and the time is now—to become the global leader in cannabis research.

The here-and-now

The Research Centre will usher in this new era to become a nexus for innovation in cannabis research in North America. It will address how growing the cannabis plant under different conditions alters the production of cannabinoids, chemicals which give cannabis its beneficial properties. Scientists will isolate and study these cannabinoids, then will use their comprehensive bench-to-bedside approach to understand how these cannabinoids can improve the health of thousands of Canadians living with chronic diseases.

A Unique Approach to Health care

The Biomedical Axis of the McGill Research Centre for Cannabis is located at the RI-MUHC. The largest medical research centre in Quebec and third largest in Canada, the RI-MUHC pushes the boundaries of medicine. This includes challenging broad societal notions and reimaging treatment options that are part of established medical practice. Cannabis is a new piece in the patient care puzzle. We have established the Biomedical Axis because:

  • There is far-reaching potential for cannabis in disease management and supportive care for chronic diseases that will affect nearly everyone in their lifetime. For example, the pain of rheumatoid arthritis is caused by an overabundance in inflammation—like your immune system is in overdrive. Many types of cancer, such as colon cancer, are also believed to be driven by chronic inflammation. Finding a way to tame the inflammation is needed, and cannabis has the potential to act as an anti-inflammatory “brake;” however, more research is needed to realize its potential.
  • The current definition of “medical cannabis” is unsubstantiated and inadequate. New research must confront the way in which cannabis has traditionally been defined. In doing so, we can change the public perception of cannabis and make potentially life-changing treatments available to as many people as possible.
  • The recent legalization of recreational cannabis has created a situation where patients may turn to cannabis in the absence of guidance from the medical community. Only research can tell us the ways in which cannabis is valuable as a medicine and how it can be used to achieve maximum benefit; guidelines are urgently needed. Without the McGill Research Centre for Cannabis, the Canadian public will be left without accurate information on the safe and effective use of cannabis, and medical professionals unable to provide guidance.

This Centre seeks to define and implement new models of testing and treatment and to design the next generation of cannabis-based medication. Imagine treating knee pain with a simple cream containing a cannabis-based drug, or using an inhaler to deliver a cannabis extract to manage asthma. While these may seem like lofty goals now, with our expertise, bench-to-bedside approach and your help, these treatment options may soon become the reality for millions of Canadians. Our needs may be simple, but the potential benefit is high


“Legalization has really opened the floodgates for cannabis research.”

-Dr Carolyn Baglole, McGill Research Centre for Cannabis


For more information, to make a donation or to get involved, please contact
Edith Bolduc, Associate Director of Development, Major Gifts, at 514-934-1934, ext. 34397,