Make town a living laboratory

Nathaniel Morris from Canopy Growth
Nathaniel Morris from Canopy Growth waits in council chambers for his turn to make a presentation on the possibility of “creating a living laboratory” in Smiths Falls Photo credit: Sally Smith.
Posted on: February 12, 2019


Smiths Falls is in for a high-ole time in the next couple of years. Council members unanimously nodded to Nathaniel Morris’ cannabis pilot project presentation Monday at Committee of the Whole. Despite loud, prolonged honking from drive-bys, and yelling from about 40 protestors protesting angle versus parallel parking outside City Hall, Morris, Canopy Growth, succinctly made his point.

This pilot project, in this town, says Morris, could play a role in how the country develops cannabis regulations — a trailblazer, in other words.

“We could create a living laboratory here.”

Morris complimented both the citizenry and the council of Smiths Falls calling them savvy about cannabis. “We are uniquely qualified in how the country develops regulations about cannabis.”

This is how, he said, it could be done: licence a variety of spaces around town as experimental cannabis establishments under a research permit. Some of the off-shoots behind this would be to, first, encourage tourism, second to “gather metrics in how people respond” and third to develop best practices, which could be applied nationally. That would make Smiths Falls uniquely qualified in helping the country develop regulations about cannabis.

He enlarged on the idea: because the Town would become a “research facility”, cannabis tourists would first need to sign a piece of paper saying they understood the nature of the research, that they were of legal age, and that they wouldn’t drive, before being given a pass “to allow them access to various facilities.”

The rules, Morris continued, would be federal rules, that is, what is the best dosage of THC in an edible. (Government of Canada website describes THC as “responsible for the way your brain and body respond to cannabis, including the high and intoxication. THC has some therapeutic effects but it also has harmful effects. Harmful effects may be greater when the strength of THC is higher.”)

Morris added that the rules would primarily be federal rules, that is what the best dosage of THC would be in an edible (proposing it be 10 mg.) He gave as an analogy that one shot of liquor, one glass of beer, one glass of wine would all be comparable but that the project would be “trying to develop the same protocol with cannabis; there just isn’t a lot of data to do this.”

His proposal would make results more data driven by setting up facilities to actually “see” when the unit is 2.5 mg or 5 mg.

“At the end of the day, while the numbers are arbitrary, the impact is potentially huge. In an environment like this ‘research facility’ we could actually observe all these impacts.”

Morris concluded his presentation to council, saying he wasn’t asking for a binding commitment but a “statement of interest.” He wants to approach the Policy Directorate offering Smiths Falls’ “assistance in helping them develop a regulatory system for cannabis.” He added that much more preliminary stuff needs to be done before moving forward, and before establishments are in operation here.

And then he added the plum — job creation. “We could do this pilot project in such a way that would create a great many jobs. If we offer even temporary licences there would be enormous interest” from well-funded companies.

To that he added “service to the country” and finally “contribution to science” in which he was particularly interested. “This could revolutionize our understanding of how cannabis affects people. We could observe humans in the wild consuming cannabis and how the two organisms interact.”

The idea behind a clinical trial, he continued is “protecting citizens from the potential harm of the substance.” Because it is available to everyone , this offers an opportunity “to study this in a much more wholistic fashion.”

Councillors were on-board with the possibility of the project. Councillor McKenna (once he had thought it through) called it “a modest idea with a grand scheme” and told Morris to tell the federal government that “we’re here to lead and help.”

Councillor Brennan, chairing the meeting, said it would be brought forward at council next week.

Article by Sally Smith

One thought on “Make town a living laboratory

  1. Jay

    I find it rather curious that someone from Canopy Growth (who are in the business of growing and selling cannabis to the medicinal marijuana industry) is proposing this idea, rather than someone from the health field? Certainly there needs to be more data on the impacts of cannabis so that at the very least, people can make an informed decision. What is their motivation if not to gather evidence to support that cannabis is harmless which can only boost their sales?

    Who is going to conduct this study and analysis? Canopy Growth is not a laboratory on human study, nor is Nate Morris a scientist. Smiths Falls needs to ask these and many other questions before permitting this town to become a glorified guinea pig in this experiment.

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