The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) is funding 14 community-based research projects that will explore how cannabis use affects underserved populations across the country. Each project will receive funding of up to $100,000 over two years, for a total research investment of $1.4 million.
Following the community-based research model, each community under study will lead its own project, participate in every phase of the research, and benefit from positive social change that occurs as a result of the findings.
“We are excited to see community-based research projects across Canada that will build capacity and new knowledge, directly benefit communities, and influence public policy,” said Dr. Joanna Ochocka, co-director at the Centre for Community Based Research (CCBR). “Collectively, these projects could create stronger, more responsive and supportive communities, especially for those people who lack power or opportunity or who are vulnerable in some way.”
The projects will address significant gaps in research on cannabis and mental health among Indigenous, Métis, 2SLGBTQ+, senior, immigrant, refugee, ethnocultural, and racialized (IRER) populations, as well as other communities who experience layers of oppression.
One example is the initiative to be undertaken by the Centre for Resilience and Social Development (CRSD). “It’s important to examine the link between mental health and cannabis use through social, political and economic lenses,” said CRSD project manager Aber Abdulle, who will be looking at how these factors intersect among IRER populations, while striving to bolster community engagement and empower young people.
Six of the projects will include initial examinations of cannabis use and mental health in Métis and First Nations communities – some of the first Indigenous-led research of its kind.
“These six projects offer an opportunity for First Nations and Métis to invest in research that honours their own language and culture, the foundation of their world views,” said Dr. Carol Hopkins, executive director at the Thunderbird Partnership Foundation. “That’s a step in the right direction toward the decolonization of Indigenous knowledges.”
For Krista Benes, director of the MHCC’s mental health and substance use team, this investment marks an exciting step toward more inclusive research. “No one is better equipped to explore the relationship between cannabis and mental health in marginalized communities than the people from those communities. We’re all experts in our own right.”
- Six of the 14 funded projects are Indigenous-led.
- This research will be the first to examine cannabis use and mental health in Métis communities.
- This research will be among the first Indigenous-led examinations of cannabis use and mental health.