Exploring Cannabis-Based Medicines and Tools (mCannabis) Program

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What is it? 

The Exploring Cannabis-Based Medicines and Tools Program is an enabling mechanism to address urgent knowledge gaps related to the efficacy and safety of Cannabis for medical purposes.  The current approach supports pre-clinical research towards understanding Cannabis-based chemicals for pain with the aim of exploring lesser known cannabinoids and terpenoids.  Future plans include advancing the Program to support digital initiatives related to post-market clinical research.  The figure below outlines the typical drug development process and how AB Innovates is approaching (in green).    

Rockstar researchers

The table below contains details of five leading Alberta-based researchers and their projects aiming to reveal the therapeutic potential of Cannabis for pain.


Lead Applicant Project Title Contact Award Amount Abstracts
Declan Ali, PhD, UAlberta The analgesic effects of cannabinoids and terpenoids on a zebrafish model for nociception and pain Website $300,000 Textual
Jason Dyck, PhD, UAlberta The effects of cannabis on cognitive function and pain management Website

Twitter: @DyckLab, @JasonRBDyck
$300,000 Textual
Aaron Gruber, PhD, ULethbridge Novel therapeutic potential of non-psychotropic cannabinoids in pain, inflammation, and depression Website $297,000 Textual
Tuan Trang, PhD, UCalgary Dissecting the central actions of cannabis for treating neuropathic pain Website

Twitter: @painandpoppies
$294,328 Textual
Gerald Zamponi, PhD, UCalgary Harnessing cannabinoids and their derivatives for the treatment of pain and itch: from understanding mechanism of action to the development of new therapeutics Website $286,066 Textual

Pre-clinical funding results

  • Eleven (11) applications were received.  Five (5) applications were selected for funding.
  • Applications were peer-reviewed by an academic panel consisting of scientists / clinicians from Canada (outside of Alberta) and the United States.  The panel was chaired by Dr. Mike Salter, Chief of Research at SickKids.
  • Total value for all five projects is ~$1.7 million with ~$1.5 million contributed from Alberta Innovates. 
  • Applicants contributed $140,000 cash through industry collaborations or other sources.  In addition, > $50,000 in-kind contributed by applicants.
  • Projects will run from March 2020 to March 2022.


  • Understand Cannabis phytochemicals for putative pain or analgesic properties (Stream 1).
  • Improve patient outcomes and grow Canada’s Cannabis Industry by understanding how Alberta Innovates can support the use of post-market surveillance data (Stream 2).
  • Provide a platform of engagement among medical Cannabis stakeholders to coordinate and collaborate to generate evidence and knowledge for more informed Cannabis use.
  • Provide advisory support for entities seeking engagement and input with healthcare delivery professionals and patients.
  • Promote Alberta-based research and innovation into local and global markets to support Canada’s Cannabis industry.
  • Realize economic and health benefits for Albertans.


These opportunities align to Alberta Innovates’ three research and innovation priorities, the Alberta Research and Innovation Framework (ARIF), and will create economic and health value for Alberta citizens.

Alberta Innovates acknowledges the collaborative support provided by Campus Alberta Neurosciences in launching this program.