When it comes to the health effects of marijuana, we still don’t know nearly enough. For a long time, controlled substance laws have hamstrung cannabis research. Even when studies are able to legally obtain and use medical marijuana, the results are sometimes hard to verify because of all the red tape involved in replicating it.

But now that Canada has nationwide legal cannabis, researchers are taking advantage of the new regulations. BC Cancer Foundation will conduct a study across nine cities, studying the effects of cannabis extracts in 150 patients, as reported by The Vancouver Sun.

Here’s how the trial will work: researchers will study the effect of three different kinds of cannabis extracts on patients. One extract will be High THC-Low CBD, another Low THC-High CBD, and a third will be equal parts THC and CBD. A placebo extract will also be used for control purposes.

Dr. Pippa Hawley will lead the trial. The medical director of the provincial pain and symptom management program at BC Cancer, Hawley has recommended the use of medical marijuana for years and received positive feedback from patients. This study, she hopes, will make medical cannabis treatment for cancer patients more precise and effective.

“My goal is to be able to provide a useful guide to patients and health care professionals,” Hawley told the Sun. “I want to be able to give them practical information about what could work.”

Patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment won’t be allowed to participate in the study as their symptoms could be too unstable for research purposes. However, Hawley says she thinks that what she learns in the study can be applied to patients who are already undergoing intense treatment.

Extracts used in the study will be donated by the organic concentrate manufacturer Whistler Medical Marijuana Corp, which was recently sold to extract giant Aurora Cannabis Inc. Funding has been put in place for the study, also from donations, and approval from the governmnet agency Health Canada is expected to come any day.

Researchers plan to begin the study in halfway through this year and release their results in the summer of next year.

Photo via Flickr user WeedPornDaily