Vancouver, BC – A press release on July 13 detailed a ground-breaking grant awarded to Langara College. The grant, which totals $3.3 million, consists of $2 million from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and $1.3 million from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, is the largest grant received by a post-secondary institution in the province.

“These grants are a huge step for the College, not to mention an exciting opportunity for our students to gain this invaluable experience with our industry partners: Pure Sunfarms, Ascension Sciences, and Nextleaf Solutions.” Public Affairs Manager Mark Dawson said over email.

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) invests over $1.2 billion into natural sciences and engineering research in Canada every year. This five-year funding for the Applied Science for the Canadian Cannabis Industry research project will allow researchers at Langara College in partnership with industry leaders to study cannabis with the latest technology from a multidisciplinary approach encompassing chemistry, biology and bioinformatics. 

“This funding is a testament to the growth and expertise in cutting-edge and cross-disciplinary applied research that Langara College has built over the years,” said Margaret Heldman in the press research.

With increased sales comes demand for research

Photo courtesy of Langara College

Cannabis sales in the province have skyrocketed since legalization in 2018 and as of 2020, accounts for about $290 million in gross revenue. Emerging research projects the medical cannabis market to reach US$49,116.4 million worldwide by 2028. The staggering market growth projection of 23.9 percent in the next seven years is attributed to escalating government funding for spreading awareness and exploring the medicinal benefits of cannabis.

According to Health Canada, in 2020, 321,539 Canadians had active medical cannabis authorizations. However, researchers suggest the figure is significantly higher given that many medicinal users do not seek medical authorization.

Langara College’s landmark grant comes at a crucial time. Just three months ago in April, hundreds of Canadian scientists and clinicians argued stiff regulation is stifling cannabis research and penned an open letter imploring Health Canada to remove barriers for research.

“The research addresses questions of importance to [the] industry such as: what is the genetic basis of cannabis varietal designation? What is the relationship between varietal and compound production? How can new varietals be developed in a targeted way?” said Kelly Sveinson, Chair of Applied Research Centre at Langara College in the press release.

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