A cannabis researcher is among 125 new appointments to the Order of Canada for 2017 from the Governor General.
Dr Ernest Small, is a principal research scientist with the Canadian Ministry of Agriculture and has written several books and hundreds of papers on different plants, including numerous pieces on cannabis. He has also consulted with the Canadian government, as well as governments in the US on cannabis legislation.
Dr Small spent the first 10 years of his career focussing on cannabis, worked with the Le Dain Commission, and helped Health Canada with botanical research and the cultivation of the supply of medicinal cannabis in the 1970’s.
The Governor General’s announcement was made on Friday, December 29. The Order of Canada was created in 1967, one of Canada’s highest civilian honours, to recognize outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation. Nearly 7,000 people have received the Order.
Small’s book, Cannabis: A Complete Guide, bills itself as a guide for “scientists, doctors, economists, students, industries, and governments to evaluate risks and benefits of all aspects of cannabis,” with more than 1,700 literature citations. Some of Small’s papers on cannabis/hemp include looking at cannabis classifications, breeding, seeds, and more.
He is currently working on a project that looks at the seeds of medicinal cannabis sativa, as well as several other non cannabis related botanical projects.
Lift had a chance to ask Dr Small a few questions about his thoughts on this historic appointment and where he sees the future of cannabis going, below:
Lift: How does it feel to have your work recognized by this prestigious award?
Dr Ernest Small: "Great! Scientists such as myself work for the most part in obscurity, making great efforts to achieve small advances. Most of what we do is of no interest to the public, even with a hot topic like cannabis. But what we do is genuinely important in the long run, and it’s extremely satisfying to know that from time to time it’s recognized."
Lift: What are some current projects you are working on in regard to cannabis sativa?
ES: "Mostly I’m writing up completed projects, and proposing new ones. At the moment, the field is developing so rapidly that the “system” (i.e. provision of research funds) is having trouble adjusting."
Lift: What do you think the future holds for cannabis-related research in a post-legalization Canada?
ES: "The medical, recreational, and industrial aspects have been suppressed for so long, that even with the explosives growth in research there’s a huge deficit of knowledge.
"Many reputable researchers and businesspeople have been very reluctant to get into the field because of the stigma, but that will rapidly change.
"Unfortunately, as in all business cycles, copycats and dreamers are going to gum up progress for a while, but eventually stability will be achieved – given what happened after hemp was first authorized, this will take about 5 years.
"The future is always unpredictable, but I expect that recreational aspects will approach but not equal the stature of alcoholic beverages, medical aspects will be significant but I doubt that the most optimistic prospects (“cure for cancer” etc.) will be realized, food aspects will steadily become more widespread and profitable, and there will be minor oilseed industrial applications. All in all, cannabis is destined to become a multibillion dollar staple of the future, greatly increasing employment (including research)."
— Mark Ware (@drmarkaware) December 31, 2017
Featured image by Zill Niazi.