Pubdate: Wed, 31 Jan 2018
Source: Edmonton Journal (CN AB)
Copyright: 2018 The Edmonton Journal
Author: Juris Graney
Page: A2


AHS teaming up with two universities to study effects of cannabis on
the brain

If you have smoked five joints a week, every week, for the past year,
then science needs you.

A research collaboration between Alberta Health Services, the
University of Alberta and MacEwan University is studying 120 healthy
Edmontonians aged between 18 and 35 to understand the short and
long-term effects of cannabis use and its residual effects on
cognition, motor skills and sensory skills.

It will also look at how people with mental illness are affected by

Principal investigator Scot Purdon, with the neuropsychology
department at Alberta Hospital Edmonton, admits it will be a small
sample group, but calls it a good starting point to help fill the void
in scientific literature surrounding the use of cannabis.

"There's literature out there, but it's highly ambiguous, with as many
positive results as negative," he said. "We don't have long-term data;
it's just a big gap."

There has been no shortage of patients who use a minimum of one gram
of marijuana a week willing to spend several hours with researchers to
answer questions about their substance use history and undertake short
cognitive tests such as remembering words and drawings.

Volunteers receive $30 for their troubles.

"We thought we'd have difficulty recruiting, but what we found was
that people use quite a bit more," he said.

As of Tuesday, 56 people had taken part in the study at a rate that
could move the release of the final results forward from August to as
earlier as April or May.

Considering recreational marijuana is set to be legalized across the
country July 1, the project could not be more timely, Purdon said.

"This research is just a drop in the bucket with what we need to find
out about the effects of cannabis," he said.

The $30,000 in funding for the project came from the Hotchkiss Brain
Institute at the University of Calgary and the Neuroscience Institute
at the U of A.

Anyone wishing to be involved in the project can  ---
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