Preclinical characterization of medical marijuana cultivars with therapeutic efficacy and low side-effect liability

Medical marijuana describes the legal use of cannabis plants for treating health-related issues. In Canada, there are currently about 40,000 medical marijuana users, and this number is expected to increase by over 1000% during the next decade. The large majority of patients use medical marijuana for its psychological effects, such as for anxiety, depression, pain and insomnia. There is a concerning lack of knowledge about the effects of different strains (“cultivars”) of medical marijuana, including both therapeutic effects as well as unwanted side-effects. In the present application, we propose to study different cultivars for their therapeutic potential and side-effect liability using preclinical protocols. Working with our Industry partner, we will select their most promising cultivars and test them in a comprehensive behavioral test battery, using state-of-the-art animal models. Cultivars will be extensively screened for anxiolytic and antidepressant properties, while sedating and cognitive side-effects will also be evaluated. The results of these studies are expected to result in the identification of specific cultivars that can be used as promising candidates for downstream clinical trials involving the human patient population and who are often refractory to existing pharmacotherapies.

Faculty Supervisor:

Dr. Alasdair Barr


Heidi Boyda, Jessica Yuen & Taylor Willi


Drayton MedCanna Solutions


Pharmacy / Pharmacology




University of British Columbia



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