The 6,000-Year History of Medical Cannabis
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Since the early 20th century, the use of cannabis for any purpose fell out of favor by both regulators and Western culture at large.
In the United States, a wave of regulations made access to cannabis more difficult starting from the late 1900s, ultimately culminating in the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, which effectively made cannabis use a federal offense. Meanwhile, prohibition in Canada lasted for 85 years until being lifted by recent developments.
Interestingly, however, this recent period of 20th century opposition is actually just a small speck in the wider 6,000-year timeline of cannabis. After all, the plant has been widely regarded for its therapeutic potential for many millennia by different cultures around the world.
6,000 Years of Medical Cannabis
Today’s infographic comes to us from MedReleaf, and it focuses on the medical uses of cannabis discovered by many cultures over time. With uses dating back to Ancient empires such as Rome, Egypt, and China, it helps to put into perspective recent legal and cultural developments regarding cannabis on a broader historical scale.
4000 BC: Pan-p’o village
Cannabis was regarded among “five grains” in China, and was farmed as a major food crop.
2737 BC: Pen Ts’ao Ching
Earliest record of cannabis as a medicinal drug. At this time, Emperor Shen-Nung recognized its treatment properties for over 100 ailments such as gout, rheumatism, and malaria.
2000-1400 BC: Scythians
Nomadic Indo-European peoples used cannabis in steam baths, and also burned cannabis seeds in burial rituals.
2000-1000 BC: Atharva Vedas
Cannabis was described as a “source of happiness”, “joy-giver”, and “bringer of freedom” in these Hindu religious texts. At this time, cannabis was smoked at daily devotional services and religious rituals.
2000-1000 BC: Ayurvedic Medicine
Open religious use of cannabis allowed for exploration of medical benefits. During this period, it was used to treat a variety of ailments such as epilepsy, rabies, anxiety, and bronchitis.
1550 BC: Ebers Papyrus
Egyptian medical papyrus of medical knowledge notes that medical cannabis can treat inflammation.
1213 BC: Ramesses II
Cannabis pollen has been recovered from the mummy of Ramesses II, the Egyptian pharaoh who was mummified after his death in 1213 BC.
900 BC: Assyrians
Employed the psychotropic effects of cannabis for recreational and medical purposes.
450-200 BC: Greco-Roman use
Physician Dioscorides prescribed cannabis for toothaches and earaches. Greek doctor Claudius Galen noted it was widely consumed throughout the empire. Women of the Roman elite also used cannabis to alleviate labor pains.
207 AD: Hua T’o
First recorded physician to describe cannabis as an analgesic. He used a mixture of cannabis and wine to anesthetize patients before surgery.
1000 AD: Treats Epilepsy
Arabic scholars al-Mayusi and al-Badri regard cannabis as an effective treatment for epilepsy.
1025 AD: Avicenna
The medieval Persian medical writer publishes “Avicenna’s Canon of Medicine”, stating that cannabis is an effective treatment for gout, edema, infectious wounds, and severe headaches. His work was widely studied from the 13th to 19th centuries, having a lasting impact on Western medicine.
1300 AD: Arab traders
Arab traders bring cannabis from India to Eastern Africa, where it spreads inland. It is used to treat malaria, asthma, fever, and dysentery.
1500 AD: Spanish Conquest
The Spanish brought cannabis to the Americas, where it was used for more practical purposes like rope or clothes. However, years later, it would be used as a psychoactive and medicinal drug.
Napoleon brought cannabis back to France from Egypt, and it was investigated for its pain relieving and sedative qualities. At this time, cannabis would be used to treat tumors, cough, and jaundice.
1839: William O’Shaughnessy
Irish doctor William O’Shaughnessy introduced the therapeutic uses of cannabis to Western medicine. He concluded it had no negative medicinal effects, and the plant’s use in a pharmaceutical context would rapidly rise thereafter.
1900: Medical Cannabis
Medical cannabis was used to treat nausea, rheumatism, and labor pain. At this point in time, it is available over-the-counter in medications such as “Piso’s cure” and “One day cough cure”.
1914: Harrison Act
Drug use was declared a crime in the U.S., under the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act in 1914.
1937: Marihuana Tax Act
The Marihuana Tax Act banned the use and sales of cannabis in the United States.
1964: Discovery of THC
The molecular structure of THC, an active component of cannabis, was discovered and synthesized by Israeli chemist Dr. Raphael Mechoulam.
1970: Classified as Schedule 1 Drug
Cannabis became categorized as a Schedule 1 Drug in the U.S., which limited further research into the plant. It was listed as having “no accepted medical use”.
1988: CBD Receptors Discovered
The CBD1 and CBD2 cannabinoid receptors were discovered. Today, we know they are some of the most abundant neuroreceptors in the brain.
2000-2018: Medical cannabis legalization
Governments, such as those of Canada and various states, begin to legalize cannabis for medical purposes from licensed producers. Recreational legalization quickly starts to follow.
The Consumer Potential of Retail Cannabis
The cannabis industry is evolving fast, and it’s being driven by consumer preferences. See the growth of retail cannabis, and the trends shaping the future.
The Consumer Potential of Retail Cannabis Products
“Eat, drink, and be merry” is becoming an increasingly common mantra for cannabis consumers.
It’s also a refrain that speaks the evolving demand picture for cannabis in a post-legalization environment, as it becomes clearer what products consumers want to see coming from the sector.
Today’s infographic comes to us from The Green Organic Dutchman, and it dives deeper into the profound investor potential in cannabis retail products, like edibles and concentrates.
The Allure of Retail Products
As the business of cannabis matures, several trends are directing its course. Consumer spending in North America is ballooning overall, but growth largely depends on the product type.
|Trend||↓ 14pp total share|
(from 50% to 36%)
|↑ 2pp total share|
(from 12% to 14%)
|↑ 13pp total share|
(from 23% to 36%)
|↓ 1pp total share
(from 15% to 14%)
While seasoned consumers prefer smoking cannabis, other consumers are actually drawn to alternative forms that the plant comes in. Proprietary research from New Frontier Data reveals the products that most appeal to potential U.S. cannabis consumers:
- 69% solid edibles
- 54% liquid edibles
- 44% topicals
- 36% joints or blunts
- 32% vaporizers (vapes)
- 29% tinctures
- 21% concentrates
- 19% pipes / water pipes
The rising popularity in retail cannabis-derived products is being directed by consumers – and they’re using products for everything from relaxation to pain management.
Variety is the Spice of Life
Food and beverages, along with wellness products, are proving to be a huge draw.
Food & Beverages
Most people are aware of pot brownies, even if they haven’t tried them. The best known cannabis edibles are baked goods, and these days they’re also found as candy and chocolate.
Cannabis-infused drinks are also growing in popularity, in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic forms. Cannabis-infused water, juice, tea, coffee, and even kombucha are legally making their way onto grocery store shelves.
Of course, before edibles can become fully mainstream, there are a few considerations: stricter regulations for product consistency, not to mention appropriate packaging and labeling to keep them away from children. As an example, Canada will start allowing edibles and other products in October 2019, as they iron out these kinks a year after full legalization.
Health & Wellness
Cannabis has been treasured for its medicinal and therapeutic properties for centuries. In the present, it has re-emerged in an intersection with the wellness industry. In fact, many consumers are already using CBD-infused products in their daily life:
- Relieving anxiety
- Enhancing sleep
- Managing pain
- Personal care
Importantly, retail cannabis products are also helping consumers reduce their dependence on medications, and to kick unhealthy habits.
A Consumer-Driven Future
Consumers are not just eating cannabis up, but they are also drinking, vaping, dabbing — and the list goes on.
For these reasons, investors should keep an eye on the fast-changing multitude of products and trends within the sector, as they provide some of the best opportunities going forward.
In the final part of this series, we’ll dive into the role that the cannabidiol (CBD) compound plays in the cannabis market.
Why Retail Cannabis Could Be the Next Big Investment Boom
Retail cannabis could flourish into a $47.3 billion industry by 2027. What makes this cannabis segment so enticing for investors and consumers alike?
Imagine being an investor in Microsoft at the time of the company’s IPO in 1986. Or better yet, buying Amazon shares while it was still just an aspiring online book store in the late 1990s.
Chances to be an early adopter in the next billion-dollar industry are far and few in between – but it’s exactly what is happening today with the nascent cannabis market. After close to a century of prohibition, cannabis is back in the limelight as legalization rolls across the U.S. and Canada.
Visualizing the Retail Boom
Today’s infographic from Choom Holdings Inc demonstrates the consumer interest in retail cannabis, and the challenges and opportunities that come with this potential.
Legal cannabis today is a lucrative modern market in the U.S. and Canada. In 2018, sales were $10.8 billion – and they are expected to grow to $47.3 billion by 2027.
Who’s driving this growth? A recent survey reveals that:
- 58% of U.S. cannabis consumers use it at least once a week
- 66% of these weekly users are millennials, aged 18 to 34
- 46% of cannabis consumers who also drink, prefer it over alcohol
- 74% of cannabis consumers who also drink, believe it to be safer than alcohol
With more people using cannabis frequently, the disruptive potential of retail cannabis becomes clear.
The Cannabis Supply Issue
Colorado, Washington, Nevada, and most recently California have been among the major U.S. states to legalize recreational cannabis in recent years.
Although cannabis sales across all states have soared, there’s one caveat to mention, which is clearly seen in the case of California. As the state began selling cannabis in stores on January 1st, it also simultaneously ran out of supply when the grey market came rushing up.
This trend of pent-up demand is clear across both mature and new markets – even Canada couldn’t escape the same supply crunch, subjecting customers to long lines and wait times on day one of legalization. For example, only one legal retail store was open in the entire province of British Columbia on October 17th.
It’s not surprising to see why cannabis is such a valuable retail product, though: dispensaries typically outsell Whole Foods and other similar retailers.
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(Source: Marijuana Business Daily)
The Value Play in Cannabis
Seizing an early adoption opportunity is a best-case scenario in the investing world.
Today, such an opportunity may come in the form of retail cannabis. The segment still faces specific hurdles, but these challenges have the potential to convert into golden opportunities as the market matures in North America:
1. Inherited demand
Legal retailers will reach new consumers as the grey market begins to come online.
2. Strong foundation
Retail cannabis is only legal in ten U.S. states, but it already shows strong promise.
3. Building bridges
Retail cannabis stores are just now opening in Canada, but licenses are hard to get.
Retail cannabis is a brave new world for consumers and investors alike – and early entrants to the industry with access to capital and a large retail footprint will likely lead the charge.
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