University of Saskatchewan (USask) pharmacologist Robert Laprairie will use a Brain Canada research grant to determine how a mother’s use of cannabis during pregnancy affects the brain of the developing fetus she’s carrying.
Laprairie is one of 20 Canadian neuroscientists each awarded $100,000 today as part of Brain Canada’s Future Leaders in Canadian Brain Research Program.
“Following on Canada’s legalization of cannabis in 2018, there is merited concern that people might seek out cannabis either for medicinal or recreational use during pregnancy,” said Laprairie.
While some people believe cannabis can help reduce nausea during pregnancy, Laprairie said, “There’s a general misconception among the public that because it’s natural, it’s safe. But it’s a drug just like any other drug.”
Laprairie, along with USask neuroscientist John Howland, and PhD students Ayat Zagzoog and Tallan Black, is testing in a rat model the hypothesis that chronic exposure to cannabis with high tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content will result in a significant increase in the rat pups’ anxiety and significant reduction in both cognition and sociability.