Millions of Canadians live with chronic pain every day and for many it's caused by arthritis. Now, a new research project funded by the Arthritis Society of Canada aims to create new treatment options.

For the first time, a study on the impact of medical cannabis on arthritis pain management will take place in Canada.

“It's been found in other diseases, like Huntington’s disease and MS, that there's a degeneration of the nerves that cannabis can actually reverse that degeneration,” says researcher Jason McDougall.

McDougall is a researcher at Dalhousie University and is leading the investigation.

He says the study will be able to offer a new, target way of treating painful joints.

“One of the ideas that we have is, in the future, to understand what's actually occurring in the cannabis plant that can alleviate pain and inflammation and put that into a cream or an ointment, which can be applied locally to the joint to alleviate the symptoms of arthritis,” says McDougall.

McDougall says there is still a lot of stigma associated with taking medical cannabis.

He hopes this study will educate and help raise awareness on the ways it can treat chronic diseases.

“It's getting at the mechanism of what's causing arthritis pain,” says McDougall.

Susan Tilley-Russells works with the Arthritis Society and she says they're looking forward to the results.

“This research is incredibly important, it gives different treatment options and gives choices to people,” says Tilley-Russells. “People are struggling with pain, of the people that have licences for medical cannabis, currently two-thirds of those are people living with arthritis pain.”

McDougall says patients who already have licences for medical cannabis say they have fewer symptoms and sleep better.

“So, what we are trying to do is put some hard science behind it, and provide non-anecdotal evidence to help support these findings,” says McDougall.

Findings that, he says, could change the lives of people living with the disease.

“We would be able to reduce and perhaps even take away the pain of arthritis,” says McDougall.

The pre-clinical lab study begins in September.