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HIGH POTENTIAL

What cannabis can do for health research By JYLLIAN PARK

he date is looming for the legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada. While pot advocates and occasional dabblers weren't able to legally reach for the green on the originally stated July 1 deadline, this fall will see its legalization. The once underground and controlled substance is finally set to emerge from the shadows for the general public on October 17th, but cannabis has been a growing part of the Canadian pharmaceutical industry dating back to 2001. The changes to how Canada handles the social and recreational use of pot are unlikely to impact how patients, physicians, and researchers are currently using, prescribing, and testing cannabis for health care purposes. It will, however, likely begin to sway public opinion about the substance, opening doors for professionals in the medical field to offer patients more evidence-based ways to treat and manage their symptoms. “There has been a lack of supplies for patients and researchers to access in the past. It hasn’t been easy to get the herb,” says Dr. Raimar Löbenberg, Professor of Pharmacy

I HOPE THAT THERE WILL BE LESS STIGMA, AND WE CAN DO MORE RESEARCH AND EVALUATE THE IMPACT OF CANNABIS ON PATIENTS.”

and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and the founder and Director of the Drug Development and Innovation Centre (DDIC) at the University of Alberta. “Now with the new regulations, the herb is much more easily accessible, and this will help boost the research on medical cannabis.” Löbenberg, who founded the DDIC in 2009, has been working with cannabis for applications in the pharmaceutical industry since 2005. The work done by the DDIC in relation to medical cannabis is in developing analytical assays and extraction methods for major cannabinoids. To accomplish this aim, the centre uses modern formulations of medical cannabis to test and develop therapeutic alternatives to smoking the herb. “The goal of the DDIC is to enable research to make prototype dosage forms for researchers and outside companies who pack, manufacture, and label dosage forms of all kinds,” says Löbenberg. “We provide investigative and clinical trial forms to make the prototype of a dosage form, from capsules to tablets to solutions and other common applications.” In the almost decade-and-a-half that he’s been working with the substance, Löbenberg has seen promising advancements in the applications for cannabis in the

THE MORTAR & PESTLE • SUMMER 2018

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Mortar & Pestle - Summer 2018  
Mortar & Pestle - Summer 2018