As the use of medicinal cannabis grows, a new Ontario research centre says it plans to look into whether pot is actually an effective treatment for various ailments.

The Michael G. DeGroote Centre for Medicinal Cannabis Research has been launched by McMaster University and St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton.

The centre says it will focus on conducting research, sharing evidence-based information and creating a network of professionals interested in further understanding medicinal cannabis.

Co-director James MacKillop — a professor of psychiatry and neurosciences — says medicinal cannabis use is skyrocketing and the number of possible conditions it is used for is rising, but the state of the evidence is often quite poor.

MacKillop said "There is an urgent need for rigorous, objective, multidisciplinary research on medicinal cannabis. That need was the impetus for creating this centre." 

The centre's research projects include reviews of the economic and policy implications of cannabis legislation and the development of methods to measure chemical ingredients in medicinal cannabis products.

The centre's medical adviser, Dr. Ramesh Zacharias, says the creation of a community dedicated to generating the clinical evidence required for informed medicinal cannabis use now and in the future is critical.

The centre is hosting its first conference on the science of cannabis, with local, national and international experts in the field on Feb. 9 and 10, 2018 in Hamilton.

With files from the Canadian Press.