Update from the Langara Cannabis Research Group

There is no shortage of opinion in North America when it comes to cannabis. Opinions vary widely on the subject of its use and abuse. Emotions run high on both sides of the debate, as well as both sides of the border. 

Some jurisdictions — like Colorado, Oregon, and Washington — are pushing ahead to legalize and monetize marijuana as fast as possible. Some estimate the US market alone is worth $71 billion. Politicians, on both sides of the border, are attracted by visions of cash pouring into state coffers.

While opinions are plentiful on both sides, there is a dearth of basic research and factual information on the effects of cannabis use and misuse.

For the last two years, an interdisciplinary team of scientists at Langara College —the Langara Cannabis Research Group — has been attempting to fill this knowledge gap. 

Langara’s Cannabis Research Group comprises:    

  • Kevin Craib, Mathematics

  • Janet Douglas, Social Service Worker

  • Mario Moniz de Sa, Biology

  • Margo Nelson, Social Service Worker       

  • Daryl Smith, Biology 

  • Paul Sunga, Health Sciences (principal investigator)

  • Kelly Sveinson, Chemistry

Members of the group have spent two years working on the first two-of-five projects, and they are about to release the findings of the first project:

  • Social and fitness surveys of college students (Nelson, Smith, Douglas, Moniz de Sa, and Sunga)

Meanwhile, work is nearing an endpoint on a second project: 

  • Social and health surveys of BC baby boomers born 1946-1964 (Douglas, Nelson, Smith, and Sunga)

The third project, currently at the midpoint, is:

  • Chemical analysis of cannabis strains and perceptions of effects (Nelson, Sveinson, Smith, Douglas, and Sunga) 

A fourth project underway in the fall of 2016 is: 

  • Analysis of chemical profiles of samples of cannabis over two years (Sveinson, Craib, and Sunga) 

This project includes external partners, and involves analysis of data from several years of measurements of active compounds in dispensary cannabis by a commercial laboratory. 

The group is currently designing a fifth project in conjunction with UBC: 

  • Clinical cardiovascular correlates of consumption of distinctly analyzed strains of cannabis (Sunga with external partner Dr. Simon Rabkin, UBC Department of Medicine)

“Our intent is to make sure that the people who make decisions around this issue have the facts at their fingertips, and that they are making decisions based on facts, not on newspaper headlines.” – Paul Sunga, Principal Investigator, Langara Cannabis Research Group

Says principal investigator Paul Sunga, “It’s particularly appropriate for a community college to be researching this subject. Drug use and drug effects are serious community health issues.

“As scientists, we are expressing our personal views on cannabis and its use. We are interested in challenging accepted wisdom through experimental means, while at the same time, contributing to extending knowledge about cannabis and BC society.

“Our intent is to make sure that the people who make decisions around this issue have the facts at their fingertips, and that they are making decisions based on facts, not on newspaper headlines.”