Legalization will vastly expand our understanding of the ancient drug plant and how it can improve lives.
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — When Canada fully legalized recreational cannabis on Oct. 17, the internet giddily reimagined the CN Tower in Toronto peeking out from a thick haze and swapped the flag’s red maple leaf for its jagged-edged green cousin. Outsiders might titter about an entire populace turning into potheads, but legalization means some of the country’s brightest can now turn their minds to pot.
As the first G-7 nation to slacken cannabis laws, Canada has bolted to the front lines of the plant’s methodical scrutiny and investigation. No longer at risk of censure or lacking access to specimens, researchers can transcend the narrow parameters of scientific study once considered acceptable, namely, clinical research, to explore social, biological, genetic and agricultural questions. From botanists to phytochemists, microbiologists to epidemiologists, scientists of all sorts are free to openly pursue a greater quantity and quality of cannabis science than ever before.
Ninety-five years of prohibition has made for a rather brief encyclopedia entry, meaning what we do know mainly comes from anecdotal observation and short-term studies. But Canadian laboratories aren’t starting from scratch. It was Canada, in 2001, that became the first country to sanction the medical use of marijuana. It was a Canadian team, in 2011, that published the first sequence of the cannabis genome. [Read More @ NY Times]