As Canada passes the three-year mark since cannabis became legal, an Indigenous-led research team at UBC Okanagan is looking at cannabis use among Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island.
The team has partnered with Woodland Cree First Nation and Indigenous Bloom — an Indigenous cooperative of cannabis retail and cultivation — for insight into the impacts of cannabis use since legalization. The Cannabis Use among Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island (CUTI) study will examine motives of use, especially when it comes to pain management or substitution of other substances, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Farrell, an adjunct professor in UBCO’s psychology department, says the predominantly Indigenous research team hopes to put a new lens on the motives for cannabis use and its potential harm-reduction benefits among Indigenous populations. She has spent the last several years working to advance cultural safety, the process of truth and reconciliation as well as supporting improved health and wellness outcomes for First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples within academic health research and health-care settings.
Dr. Farrell works with co-principal investigator Dr. Zach Walsh, a psychology professor in the Irving K. Barber Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. He describes this Indigenous-led research as among the first of its kind in Canada.
To date, much of the research on cannabis use has centred on non-Indigenous populations, Dr. Farrell says.
“Ensuring equity and inclusion in cannabis research is important. When it comes to understanding motives for cannabis use among Indigenous Peoples — including assessing both risk for problematic use and potential benefits of therapeutic use for symptoms of chronic pain, anxiety, sleep and substitution — there is much to learn that can support health and wellness in Indigenous communities and inform public health programming.”
As an Indigenous-led and focused study, “we’re able to put a different lens on our approaches to this work and ensure we’re not only supporting self-determinism in the health and wellness of Indigenous Peoples, but also creating research and mentorship opportunities for self-identified Indigenous undergraduate and graduate students at UBC,” Dr. Farrell says.
Those who self-identify as Indigenous — First Nations (status/non-status), Inuk or Métis — are 18 years or older, use cannabis, and are interested in learning more or participating in the CUTI project, are invited to get involved in the study by emailing email@example.com