The Science Behind the Medical Cannabis Industry
There’s nothing quite like cannabis in the plant kingdom. Beneath its humble surface, over 750 unique compounds exist within – all of which have helped propel the cannabis industry into the multi-billion dollar market it is today.
Today’s infographic from The Green Organic Dutchman takes a deep dive into the cannabis components which contribute to its therapeutic potential, how it interacts with the human body, and the ways it can be consumed.
The Chemical Effects of Cannabis
While many people would be familiar with THC and CBD as the two major cannabinoids, there are a few lesser-known cannabinoids which also play important roles: Cannabichromene (CBC), Cannabigerol (CBG), Cannabinol (CBN), Tetrahydrocannbivarin (THCv), and Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCa).
In different combinations, they work together with terpenes – aromatic oils that are present in most plants – to provide relief for a variety of ailments.
|Pain/ Sleep||CBD, THC||Cramps, Migraine|
|CBC, CBD, CBN, THC||Insomnia|
|CBC, CBD, CBN, THC, THCv||Pain|
|CBC, CBD, CBDa, CBG, CBN, THC, THCa||Arthritis, Inflammation|
|CBD, THC, THCa||Crohn’s disease|
|Mood/ Behavior||CBD, CBG||Anxiety|
|CBD, THC||ADD/ADHD, Stress|
|CBD, CBG, THC||Bipolar disorder, OCD, PTSD|
|CBC, CBD, CBG, CBN, THC||Depression|
|Neurological||CBC, CBD, CBG, CBN, THC, THCa||Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)|
|CBC, CBD, CBG, THC, THCa||Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s|
|CBD, CBN, THC, THCa||Multiple Sclerosis|
|CBD, CBN, THCa, THCv||Epilepsy, Seizures|
|Other||CBC, CBD, CBDa, CBG, THC, THCa||Cancer|
When cannabinoids and terpenes interact, the human endocannabinoid system is already equipped to deal with the entourage effects that are created.
Modern-Day Medical Cannabis
It’s clear that many cultures embraced cannabis long before scientific research came into play. Its therapeutic properties were widely recorded and extolled around the world.
After decades of restricted access and stigma, the tide is turning back towards what our ancestors discovered long ago. Millions of patients rely on medical cannabis today, with Canada and Israel paving the way in cannabis research.
Medical cannabis has been legal nationwide since 2001, aiding scientists in studying its effects.
Funding: CAD$1.4 million (US$1.05 million) invested by the government towards research projects.
Since the 1990s, medical cannabis has been legal for patients of cancer, chronic pain, and PTSD.
Funding: 8 million shekels (US$2.16 million) annual government funding to support innovation.
Back in the day, typically only dried cannabis flower was used. However, consumption methods have evolved into three broad categories today: ingestion, inhalation, and application.
The dosage of cannabis consumed is easy to control using edibles or beverages, tinctures or sprays, and capsules.
The effects of cannabis are quickly felt through smoking, vaporizing, and/or dabbing concentrates.
Transdermal patches and topicals like balms offer localized relief through a controlled dose.
Each of these methods have their own pros and cons, but in the end, they all offer the medical cannabis patient with a wide variety to choose from. Some of these forms, such as topicals and edibles, even lend themselves to the rapidly growing consumer cannabis segment.
In the seventh part of this series, we’ll delve into the rise of retail that’s set to disrupt the cannabis industry.
The Big Pharma Takeover of Medical Cannabis
The Big Pharma industry is entering the cannabis space, by swapping patients for patents. But what are the impacts of such a takeover?
The Big Pharma Takeover of Medical Cannabis
As evidence of cannabis’ many benefits mounts, so does the interest from the global pharmaceutical industry, known as Big Pharma. The entrance of such behemoths will radically transform the cannabis industry—once heavily stigmatized, it is now a potentially game-changing source of growth for countless companies.
Today’s infographic comes to us from CB2 Insights, and explores how and why the notorious Big Pharma are interested in the nascent cannabis industry.
Who are “Big Pharma”?
The term refers to some of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, considered especially influential as a group. To give a sense of their sheer size, the market cap of the top 10 Big Pharma companies is $1.7 trillion—Johnson & Johnson being the largest, with a market capitalization of $374 billion.
So far, Big Pharma has watched the cannabis industry from the sidelines, deterred by regulatory concerns. What we are seeing now is the sleeping giant’s takeover slowly intensifying as more patents, partnerships, and sponsored clinical trials come to fruition.
Could Cannabis be Sold Over the Counter?
The cannabis plant has been used in medicine for 6,000 years. However, there is still considerable debate around the role it plays in healthcare today. There are currently almost 400 active and completed clinical trials worldwide surrounding cannabidiol (CBD), a type of cannabinoid that makes up 40% of the cannabis plant’s extract.
Cannabis relies on CBD’s therapeutic properties, and recent studies suggest it may be useful in combating a variety of health conditions, such as:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Cancer side effects
As of 2019, 33 states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for medical use. Its potential for pain management has led some experts to recommend it as an alternative to addictive painkillers, with one study of 13 states showing opiate-related deaths decreasing by over 33% in the six years since medical cannabis was legalized.
As the industry evolves, data is becoming increasingly important in understanding the potential of cannabis—both as a viable medical treatment, and as a recreational product. The shift away from anecdotal evidence towards big data will inform future policies, and give rise to a new era of consumer education.
Big Pharma’s Foray into Cannabis
Further legalization of cannabis will challenge Big Pharma’s bottom line, and poach more than $4 billion from pharma sales annually. In fact, medical cannabis sales are projected to reach $5.9 billion in 2019, from an estimated 24 million patients.
Seven of Canada’s top 10 cannabis patent holders are major multinational pharmaceutical companies, a trend that is not unique to Canada.
|Company Rank||🇨🇦 Canadian Patents||Company Rank||🇺🇸 U.S. Patents|
|1. Novartis||21||1. Abbvie||59|
|2. Pfizer||14||2. Sanofie||39|
|3. GW Pharmaceuticals||13||3. Merck||35|
|4. Ericsson||13||4. Bristol-Myers Squibb||34|
|5. Merck||11||5. GW Pharmaceuticals||28|
|6. Solvay Pharmaceuticals||7||6. Pfizer||25|
|7. Kao Corporation||7||7. Hebrew University of Jerusalem||19|
|8. Ogeda SA||7||8. Roche||17|
|9. Sanofi||6||9. University of Connecticut||16|
|10. University of Connecticut||6||10. U.S. Health and Human Services||13|
It comes as no surprise that many pharmaceutical giants have already formed strong partnerships with cannabis companies, such as Novartis and Tilray, who will develop and distribute medical cannabis together in legal jurisdictions around the world.
Data is the Missing Link
While the body of knowledge about the many uses of cannabis continue to grow, clinical evidence is key for widespread adoption.
Products backed by data will be a defining criteria for major companies to come into the market en masse. And ultimately, Big Pharma’s entry could accelerate public understanding and confidence in cannabis as a viable option for a range of ailments, and mark the next major milestone for the industry.
Visualizing the Boom in the CBD Beverage Market
CBD-infused beverages are considered to be the fastest growing segment in the overall cannabis market. How did this partnership of brews and bud come to be?
Visualizing the Boom in the CBD Beverage Market
It’s safe to say that the cascade of cannabis legislation has sent the world into a constant state of flux. We are witnessing a seismic shift in culture, as cannabis steps out of the black market and into unexpected industries—from big pharma, to beauty, and now to beverages.
According to Zenith Global, the U.S. CBD-infused drinks market will reach an estimated $1.4 billion by 2023, making it one of the fastest-growing segments in the overall industry.
Today’s infographic comes to us from Trait Biosciences, and outlines the magnitude of the CBD-infused beverage segment, along with some of the subsequent challenges and opportunities that will shape the future of cannabis.
CBD and its Benefits
CBD is an abbreviated term for cannabidiol, a type of cannabinoid that makes up 40% of a cannabis plant’s extract. It has become increasingly popular for relieving pain, promoting relaxation, and lifting mood without the psychoactive properties that come with THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), the other major cannabinoid.
Recent studies suggest that CBD’s properties may be useful in combating a variety of health conditions such as epilepsy, schizophrenia, multiple sclerosis, migraines, arthritis, and even side effects of cancer.
The New Wave of Beverages
CBD-infused beverages will open the floodgates to new audiences who want to consume cannabis in different formats. They have many benefits, that will rival other methods of ingestion:
- Easy to Administer
Beverages are seen as the healthier way to consume CBD, especially compared to smoking.
- More Accessible
They are becoming more easily available in restaurants, bars, supermarkets, and online sites.
There is some evidence to suggest that CBD in caffeinated products can curtail the feeling of being on “edge”.
- Higher Precision
Dosage is controlled and, much like alcohol, consumers will be able to determine how much CBD content they want.
Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic product categories are currently being explored, resulting in some unexpected partnerships, such as Molson Coors—the world’s seventh largest brewer—and Hexo Corp, a Canadian cannabis product company.
Trends Shaping the Future of CBD Beverages
The CBD product landscape is constantly evolving. Demand for CBD-infused beverages will be fueled by three key trends.
- Changing Consumer Preferences: The decline of alcohol sales globally is evidence of changing consumer tastes. Sales are expected to fall further as more people exchange alcohol for cannabis products.
- Product Innovation: Sustainable packaging, transparency around ingredients, more convenient ready-to-drink solutions, and personalized strains are driving the furious pace of product innovation.
- Big Players and Influencers: Growing knowledge and increasing brand/celebrity endorsements are creating an established CBD industry in mainstream culture. Already, singer Willie Nelson and former NFL star Terrell Davis have put their names to two seperate lines of CBD-infused beverages.
As these trends evolve, consumers will benefit from more education around CBD, which could lead to more CBD products, like beverages, entering the mainstream across numerous industries.
What’s Next for the CBD-infused Beverage Market?
CBD purity is a primary focus area of current scientific studies. For consumers, more transparency is needed around ingredients, dosage levels, and product labeling. For example, the state of Indiana now mandates that manufacturers must label CBD products with QR codes that can be scanned to show whether they contain acceptable levels of THC, CBD, pesticides, and other compounds.
Most notably, new methods of CBD infusion will transform the beverages market. Many industry players have used nano-emulsion to infuse CBD. However, these fat-based nanoparticles have been known to accumulate in organs, causing health concerns. That’s why creating water-soluble CBD has been an emerging industry priority.
CBD-infused beverages are poised to become the next big thing and create massive economic growth—despite strict industry regulations. Scientific advancements and changing laws will unlock the potential of the CBD market, potentially disrupting the entire beverage industry.
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