Effects of Cannabis

New Method for Assessing the Effects of Cannabis on Consumers


The legalization of cannabis in Canada has sparked a need for accurate information on its effects and risks. To address this, researchers from the University of Saskatchewan (USask) have developed a new smoke exposure model that provides insights into the impact of cannabis use on consumers. Previously, pre-clinical cannabis research relied on injection of cannabinoids in rodent models, but the USask researchers have developed a model that utilizes a novel cannabis smoke delivery system.

Dr. John Howland and Dr. Robert Laprairie, along with their graduate students Tallan Black and Ilne Barnard, used commercially available strains of cannabis to burn in smoke chambers, creating a more accurate representation of Canadian cannabis use. This method aligns with the smoke inhalation method commonly used by high-THC cannabis users in Canada and allows researchers to generate data that closely mirrors the physiological and molecular effects of human cannabis use.

By studying the impact of acute high-THC cannabis exposure on working memory function in young adults, the team found that there was an increased deficit in working memory when the task was more challenging. Working memory is crucial for daily functioning and is associated with conditions such as schizophrenia. This research provides valuable insights into the behavioral effects of cannabis use and how it can impact cognitive functions.

Furthermore, the researchers examined the effects of repeated cannabis exposure in pregnant rodents, comparing the impact of smoke exposure to injection and high-CBD strains to high-THC strains. The study confirmed physiological differences resulting from smoke exposure, emphasizing the importance of studying the effects of cannabis use during pregnancy. This research provides a foundation for future studies on the risks and consequences of cannabis exposure during pregnancy.

Moving forward, the research team aims to delve deeper into understanding which behaviors are most affected by cannabis exposure, the potential outcomes for children whose mothers used cannabis during pregnancy, and how positive or negative experiences following cannabis exposure can influence outcomes. This data will contribute to the development of evidence-based interventions and refined public health messaging regarding cannabis use.

Dr. Howland believes that educating the general public about cannabis will empower individuals to make informed decisions about their use and the type of cannabis they consume. The team’s research endeavors may also lead to the development of interventions that can alleviate the negative effects of cannabis use.

As Canada continues to navigate the ramifications of the legalization of cannabis, it is crucial to have scientifically supported research to guide public health messaging and promote safer consumption practices. The smoke exposure model developed by the USask researchers offers a valuable tool for gaining insight into the effects of cannabis use, ultimately benefiting Canadian cannabis users and informing future policies and interventions.


  1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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