Canadian MS Society To Provide 1.5$ Million For Cannabis Research

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a condition where the body’s immune system responds against the central nervous system (CNS), which is comprised of the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves.

Inflammation in the CNS causes damage and scarring to nerve fibers and the myelin cells that insulate them. The result is a variety of neurological symptoms that vary by the individual in type and severity.

There are a variety of federally-approved medications to treat the symptoms of MS and slow its progression, but none are entirely effective.

The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada (MSSOC) has announced a partnership with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to provide $1.5 million in funding for research focused on treating MS with cannabis.

“The MS Society is pleased to invest this first-of-its-kind funding opportunity in Canadian MS research,” said MSSOC president and CEO, Dr. Pamela Valentine. “As an organization, we have a mandate to provide information that is rooted in evidence.”

In a 2017 summary, Dr. Michelle Cameron and Dr. Jessica Rice wrote that humans have used cannabis for thousands of years, but its scientific research is still in its infancy.

The two wrote that current evidence suggests that cannabis could be useful in the treatment of symptoms of spasticity and pain but probably not MS-related tremor or urinary incontinence. They stated that the subject of cannabis-based MS treatment is controversial and that patients should discuss the matter with their health care providers.

“Cannabis is still a relatively unknown substance from the perspective of evidence-based research,” said Valentine. “So investing in research on cannabis use is an important first step for determining its applicability and efficacy towards managing MS.”

The $1.5 million will be budgeted over five years and applied to cannabis-based MS research using scientific, clinical, health service, and policy research-based approaches.