With the recent legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada, a research partnership between The Lung Association – Ontario and Tetra Bio-Pharma has launched to better support patients and healthcare providers with evidence-based information about the impact of cannabis use.At The Lung Association – Ontario’s Breathe! Bash held on March 28, the partnership announced 3 research grant recipients.

The new research investigations are:

  • Jeremy Hirota, PhD, from McMaster University will be determining if smoking cannabis increases the risk of viral respiratory tract infections.
  • Tetyana Kendzerska, MD, PhD, from The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, University of Ottawa will be filling the knowledge gap on the effects of recreational cannabis on obstructive sleep apnea.
  • Nicholas Vozoris, BSc, MHSc, from St. Michael’s Hospital, University of Toronto, will be examining if smoking cannabis affects breathing tests, and if doctors should be using these tests when seeing patients with lung troubles who smoke cannabis.

“Cannabis is a very polarizing topic, but as scientists we should approach things with data, with experiments to test hypotheses, and then based on the data make an informed decision,” says Jeremy Hirota, assistant professor, McMaster University, in a release.

Kendzerska, associate professor, The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, University of Ottawa, says, “Despite promising initial findings, there is a need for studies comparing the acute effects of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) on respiratory disturbances during sleep and daytime alertness in people with obstructive sleep apnea in order to provide initial insights about potential mechanisms of action and to inform subsequent trials with longer treatment periods.”

Vozoris, associate scientist, St. Michael’s Hospital, University of Toronto, says, “While it is known that cannabis smoking can lead to respiratory symptoms and lung tissue damage in a similar manner as cigarette smoking can, many studies so far have curiously failed to show that smoking cannabis negatively affects lung function testing. Further investigation is urgently needed to clarify if this is indeed the case, and if this is the case, then understanding why the difference between cigarettes and cannabis. I am grateful to The Lung Association for supporting this important area of respiratory research.”

George Habib, president and CEO of The Lung Association Ontario, says, “The results of these projects will ensure that healthcare providers and the public have the evidence they need to better inform the decisions they make on behalf of their patients or themselves around the use of cannabis.”

Guy Chamberland, MSc, PhD, CEO and CSO of Tetra Bio-Pharma, says, “We are delighted by the considerable interest and scope of novel submissions that were received from healthcare professionals for this research grant. Not only are we excited to partner with the Lung Association – Ontario on expanding the scientific data available on the medical use of cannabis, but these projects demonstrate the ingenuity of Canadian investigators in areas that have the potential to impact the lives of many individuals with lung-related health conditions. We can’t wait to see what is discovered.”