Edmonton

Alberta medical cannabis producer to supply products for Harvard clinical trials

An Alberta medical producer north of Edmonton is supplying cannabis product and funding to Harvard University for medical trials.

Trials will focus on the medicinal effects of cannabis for specific health conditions

There are almost 1,000 cannabis plants inside the Atlas Growers growing room. The company will be supplying cannabis products and funds for Harvard University medical trials. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

Atlas Growers and Biotechnlogies, a medical cannabis producer located north of Onoway, Alta., will supply cannabis products and funding for clinical trials at Harvard University. 

The company announced the partnership with Harvard's International Phytomedicines and Medical Cannabis Institute on Tuesday at its rural facility.

The clinical trials will focus on the medicinal effects and recommended doses of cannabis for specific health conditions. The data that comes from this partnership will be given to doctors and pharmacists.

Buds of the cannabis flower are tended to in Atlas Growers' trimming room. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

The company cannot advertise the medicinal effects of their cannabis products until it is scientifically proven.

"They need proof that what you're providing as a medicine is going to actually treat something for the patient," said Sheldon Croome, CEO and president of Atlas Growers.

"Now it takes years and years to go through clinical trials and it costs lots of money, but what you can do at least in the near-term is prove that efficacy and that's what we're doing today."

Atlas Growers products currently cannot be bought by recreational cannabis users in Canada. 
Sheldon Croome, president and CEO of Atlas Growers, is hoping to get data to show how their cannabis products work for different health ailments. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

Harvard University has four other cannabis companies participating in upcoming clinical trials, which will focus on how the products can be used by cancer patients, and how they can be prescribed instead of opiates, along with other tests.

"What comes from this is that we can actually have products from Atlas that we can do the science for and provide them with the evidence that it can be effective and minimize the side effects that they experience," said Dr. Wil Ngwa, director of Harvard Global Health Catalyst, from Boston.

He expects more medical cannabis growers will partner up with universities to test their products in clinical trials.

"I actually think if you're a grower and you're not doing this, you're being left behind because you have to do this," Ngwa said. "You cannot keep just using something that blindly. You want to have that evidence that tells you if you buy this amount, here's how much you are getting and this is how it's going to act for you."

Atlas Growers will be supplying close to $3 million in product and funds to over Harvard Global Health Catalyst the next three years as part of the partnership. 

The medical tests are expected to begin within a year.

@Travismcewancbc

Travis.mcewan@cbc.ca

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