As we move forward with cannabis legalization in the United States we are gearing up for the changes that the industry will go through post federal legalization. As it stands today, the industry operates in individual markets across the country all with different regulations and levels of involvement. Currently, cannabis companies are also limited by financial constraints that bar large public/investment banks from operating in our industry. Once federal legalization happens, big banks will be able to engage in the industry and put public money behind the operations. Brands will quickly expand from the state to the national level and cannabis will become mainstream. When federal legalization happens, the pharmaceutical industry will also be able to begin working with this plant. Once the pharmaceutical industry gets involved and scientifically based research is able to take place, the true medical potential of the cannabis plant will be unlocked.
First, let’s discuss pharmacology, the science the pharmaceutical industry is formed around. In essence, pharmacology is the study of how different molecules and compounds affect the human body. In traditional pharmacology, compounds are isolated and introduced into the body, the effects are studied in clinical trials, and medicines are developed based on research. The cannabis plant produces approximately 140 individual cannabinoid compounds along with hundreds of terpenes, flavonoids, esters, and other bio-beneficial molecules, all of which are responsible for the therapeutic and medicinal benefits of the cannabis plant. We are only just beginning to understand the intricate relationship these molecules have with each other, and with the human body. Once the pharmaceutical industry is able to work with cannabis, they will use their resources to begin studying these compounds and how they interact with the human body. The pharmaceutical industry has access to some of the smartest minds on the planet and an incredible amount of money to back scientific research. This research will unlock the potential for cannabis as a medicine and give medical professionals the scientific research they need to be able to suggest cannabis as a treatment to their patients.
As mentioned above, in traditional pharmacology compounds are isolated and then introduced into the body. With cannabis, there is evidence to support that the compounds in the cannabis plant work better when they enter the body together than when they are isolated. You may have heard this referred to as the entourage or ensemble effect. There will be pharmaceutical products that contain single cannabinoids, but we will also see cannabinoid formulations created by combining isolated cannabinoids in different ratios. It’s in the different ratios that we will begin to see the true medical efficacy of this plant. There are already companies in the industry that have begun to do this type of work. Ebbu, a cannabis biotech company located in Colorado spent its time in the legal cannabis industry creating and patenting cannabis formulations and studying their effects. This forward-thinking move has put Ebbu in a league of their own and has given the company tremendous value. They were purchased in October of 2018 for $429 million dollars by the industry giant Canopy Growth from Canada.
Ebbu will not be the last company to cash in on cannabinoid formulations. Once the pharmaceutical industry gets involved and begins to research formulations, we will see a massive increase in the number of medical patents surrounding cannabis-derived medicine. But before we see patents being filed, we are going to see a significant increase in clinical trials surrounding cannabis-derived medicine. Clinical trials surrounding cannabis are something that the industry desperately needs to help legitimize cannabis as a medicine. Currently, we have lots of anecdotal information surrounding cannabis as well as limited scientific research. In order to get the medical community in the U.S. on board with cannabis, we need clinical trials and lots of them. For pharmaceutical medications developed in the United States, there are three phases of clinical trials that need to be passed before a medication can go to market. Completing a clinical trial is a time consuming and expensive process, which can take a decade and upwards of 1 billion dollars to complete. Once pharmaceutical companies start formulating with cannabis we will see lots of research surrounding cannabis and its effects on the human body. It will be very interesting to see what science tells us about this plant. The pharmaceutical industry is waiting for their chance to get involved as the potential for creating new medicines with the cannabis plant is vast.
For decades, medical professionals have been barred from taking part in the cannabis industry and the healing power of this plant due to the lack of research and scientific evidence to support cannabis as a medicine. This a direct effect of federal prohibition and the scheduling of cannabis as a Schedule 1 Substance. Once we see federal legalization and pharmaceutical medicines are being produced from this plant, the medical community will have to make cannabis medicine and the endocannabinoid system part of the medical school curriculum. Having cannabis added to the medical school curriculum will be a huge step forward for cannabis. Finally, our doctors will understand cannabis and will be able to use the healing power of this plant to help people cope with a variety of illnesses and conditions. Bringing cannabis into the medical world has the potential to change medicine. Cannabis offers our medical professionals a new set of tools to help alleviate ailments without a long list of negative side effects unlike most medications on the market today.
As we move forward, we believe we are going to see cannabis and modern medicine combine to create cannabis-derived medicines that will be prescribed by a doctor. Those medicines will come in many different forms, and formulations and will be able to offer people relief from many of life’s ailments. Although there are some aspects of big money and the pharmaceutical industry getting involved that are worrisome, there is an incredible potential for the true healing power of the cannabis plant to be unlocked. Bringing real scientific data to the table will allow us all to better help the consumer understand this plant and the positive impact that it can have on their life. As an industry, our mission has always been to help people and to teach them how cannabis can help them. As we progress, expanding our industry to include the pharmaceutical industry will help us to do this on a larger scale with more accurate information than we have ever had before. The future is bright for cannabis as a medicine. We are excited to see all of the amazing things it will hold!