Sudbury

Canadore College hires cannabinoid pharmacologist to create new programs

Canadore College has hired a researcher who specializes in the science of medical cannabis to run a trial that will examine the pain-relieving properties of marijuana as an alternative to traditional pain-killers such as narcotics. 

Dr. Pritesh Kumar is developing a program to train and educate students and health care professionals

Canadore College says Dr. Kumar will develop curriculum in medical cannabis programming. (BC Cannabis Stores)

A northeastern Ontario college is hiring a researcher who specializes in the science of medical cannabis to run a trial that will examine the pain-relieving properties of marijuana as an alternative to traditional pain-killers such as narcotics. 

Dr. Pritesh Kumar will be taking the position of the director of cannabinoid or cannabis medical research at Canadore, in North Bay.

He'll set up a lab and begin the process of conducting a clinical trial.

"Fundamentally physicians need an alternative to treat chronic pain. Opiates were designed only to treat short-term pain and opiates were never developed to treat long-term pain," he explained.

"This is the challenge we have right now is there is not enough clinical data where a physician can say yes to medical cannabis over opiates."

There is a lot of anecdotal evidence but little scientific evidence, so far, he says.

"It's very exciting to do this type of research. And I think a number of health care protections and physicians and pharmacists are interested in seeing what the real data is and then how this actually provides relief," he said.

"And is it addictive? Is it not addictive? What are the side effects? A lot remains unknown about this plan outside of just the tremendous amount of anecdotal evidence that we have."

'Patient recruitment'

He says his first step will be applying for a research license through Health Canada.

The second step would be identifying a chronic pain population that would be interested in looking at an alternative to their opiates.

"We're looking at initially a two to three year timeline. One year for patient recruitment and getting the research program up and running. And then another year of the trial and then maybe six to eight months of data analysis before the results would be published in a database," he said.

Kumar will also be designing educational courses for  students, health care practitioners, and pharmacists in the community on the science of the marijuana plant. 

As well, he'll set up a postgraduate certificate program in cannabinoid science.

The scientist, who is leaving the University of Louisville says he plans to be on campus at Canadore by Nov. 25.

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