GCCRC statement on academic independence and industry associations
The Global Cannabis Cultivation Research Consortium (GCCRC) is a group of academic researchers with decades of interest and experience in studying cannabis cultivation.
Associated with universities and similar organisations in over 15 countries we are committed to the high-quality scientific study of this important activity, independent of conflict of interest (COI).
A COI is a situation or relationship in which personal, professional, political, academic or financial gain could be seen by a fair-minded person as in conflict with independence of judgement (See the Farmington Consensus, FARM, 1997) and could thus be seen as at odds with academic integrity.
Financial gain may include employment, research funding, stock or share ownership, payment for lectures or travel, consultancies, or company support for staff. We note that having a COI is not in itself a wrongdoing (FARM, 1997) but that if there is a real, apparent or potential COI it must be transparently declared. A COI has also been described as a situation or relationship which, when revealed later, would make a reasonable reader feel misled or deceived (FARM, 1997).
- Consistent with the Ethical Guidelines of the International Society of Addiction Journal Editors (ISAJE), we note that: ‘The potential for conflict of interest in the addiction field is enhanced by any relationship or funding connected with the tobacco industry, the alcohol beverage industry, for-profit health care systems, private hospitals, the pharmaceutical industry, and “social aspect organizations” that receive their primary support from these sources’.
- However, we also recognise that, particularly with the emergence of legal, regulated cannabis markets in North America, Uruguay and increasingly other places around the world, there is the potential for real, potential or apparent conflict of interest with cannabis researchers being associated with the legal cannabis industry.
- For the purposes of this document we use the Oxford Dictionary definition of the ‘Cannabis industry’ as ‘The branch of commercial activity concerned with the production and sale of cannabis or cannabis-related products.’
- Academic protocols and practices with regards to declaring potential COI with the cannabis industry are yet to emerge.
- We note that with regard to the emerging cannabis industry there are some complexities. Some aspects of the cannabis industry look like markets for other recreational intoxicants; others, concerned with the medicinal properties of cannabis, look like the pharmaceutical industry; and some look like both.
- Nevertheless, in the interim, we undertake to apply practices informed by the ISAJE guidelines and err on the side of caution.
- Until guidelines for potential COI with the cannabis industry are reflected in COI statements in related academic fields, we agree to the following:
- Where known, we will not accept any funding, direct or otherwise, for GCCRC research, from the cannabis industry or associated actors who themselves have a COI with the cannabis industry.
- Any members of the GCCRC who may receive funding from the cannabis industry for other research (e.g. regarding trials of cannabis as medicine) will declare all such instances of funding publicly in GCCRC-associated publications, presentations, websites, etc.
- We may announce GCCRC related data gathering and research findings through social media and other media platforms which may include cannabis community advocates and organisations, cannabis literature, website and business organisations.
- In no way will our activity at (7.3) above involve partnering with these organisations, offering anything in return, nor implying or conferring support, or condoning any of their activities.
- All activity at (7.3) above will be recorded and available to be declared in an open fashion in associated publications, presentations, websites, etc.
- Beyond points 7.1-7.4 above, all members of the GCCRC will at a minimum declare any real, apparent or potential COIs including significant financial or other relations (e.g., consulting, speaker fees) with any companies, or other groups that may gain or lose financially from the results or conclusions of GCCRC research.
- Members will also declare any such significant financial relations that the member’s administrative unit/employer (e.g. Research Centre or Institute) has with any companies, or other groups that may gain or lose financially from the results or conclusions of GCCRC research.