EDMONTON—An Edmonton company is teaming up with Harvard University in hopes of proving the purported healing powers of cannabis.
Atlas Biotechnologies announced Tuesday that it is a founding partner of Harvard’s new International Phytomedicines and Medical Cannabis Institute, where clinical trials will be done to test the efficacy of various cannabis formulations for treating specific ailments.
Atlas, which owns Atlas Growers Ltd. and has a licensed production facility west of Edmonton, will provide up to $3 million over three years in product and research grants for the university in Cambridge, Mass., to use in trials on patients with chronic pain and neurological conditions.
“Everybody thinks it can cure everything. But the problem is you don’t have the scientific evidence for all of this yet,” said Wil Ngwa, director of Harvard Global Health Catalyst and a professor in radiation oncology at Harvard Medical School.
Ngwa said he is particularly excited about the potential effectiveness of cannabis in managing the side-effects of cancer treatment.
He believes all licensed producers should follow the lead of Atlas and put money into funding scientific research.
“If you are a grower and you’re not doing this, you’re going to be left behind. Because you have to do this,” Ngwa said. “Really, it is time. You cannot keep just using something blindly. You want to have that evidence.”
Use of medical cannabis is growing rapidly around the world, with patients claiming it helps with anxiety, chronic pain, seizures, side-effects from cancer treatments, and other conditions.
But with little hard scientific evidence to back their claims, the medical community remains skeptical, and many doctors won’t prescribe it.
Atlas president and CEO Sheldon Croome said during a tour of the company’s 38,000-square-foot Lac Ste. Anne facility Tuesday that he wants to create the world’s “most trusted” cannabis products, and doing so means proving they do exactly what they are designed to do.
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