The Huge Potential of Minor Cannabinoids
Hemp and marijuana are increasingly recognized for their exciting investment potential.
Due to their growing list of health benefits, the dominant conversation tends to center around the most abundant cannabinoids—cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). As a result, the cannabinoid market is estimated to reach almost $45 billion by 2024.
But CBD and THC are just two cannabinoids out of over a hundred that have been discovered to date. Today’s graphic from Trait Biosciences explores the hidden potential of the lesser-known minor cannabinoids, and illustrates how they fare in comparison to their major counterparts.
Cannabinoids are chemical compounds found in both hemp and marijuana that mimic compounds found in the human endocannabinoid system. This system is made up of a network of receptors that are involved in physiological processes like mood and memory.
When cannabis is consumed, cannabinoids interact with these receptors and produce different effects depending on the receptors they bind to. Although over a hundred cannabinoids have been found, they are not all created equally. They are typically divided into two categories:
- Major cannabinoids: More plentiful
- Minor cannabinoids: Less plentiful
Regardless of whether a cannabinoid is categorized as major or minor, every cannabinoid starts out as a form of CBG.
CBG-A: The Mother of All Cannabinoids
Cannabigerolic acid, or as it is more commonly known, CBG-A, is the acid precursor to other cannabinoid acids such as THC-A, and CBD-A. When the acids are exposed to heat, or prolonged UV light, they convert to neutral cannabinoids such as CBD and THC.
While CBG is regarded as a minor cannabinoid, it boasts a wide range of benefits that are urging researchers and scientists to take notice:
- Fights inflammation
- Soothes pain
- Reduces nausea
- Slows the spread of cancer cells
- Helps treat glaucoma
CBG could be hugely beneficial in treating a wide variety of diseases, but it’s just one of many minor cannabinoids that could potentially blow CBD and THC out of the water.
The Potential of Minor Cannabinoids
To date, there has been limited research into the power of minor cannabinoids. However, the results from preliminary research look incredibly promising.
|Cannabinoid||Type||Examples of potential medical application|
|Major, psychoactive||Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, autoimmune diseases|
|Major, non-psychoactive||Epilepsy, schizophrenia|
|Minor, non-psychoactive||Metabolic disorders, colon cancer
|Minor, non-psychoactive||Arthritis, neurodegenerative diseases, nausea, appetite loss
|Minor, non-psychoactive||Chemotherapy-induced nausea/vomiting (CINV), depression|
|Minor, non-psychoactive||Fungal diseases
|Minor, non-psychoactive||Crohn’s disease, bowel disease, certain cancers
|Minor, non-psychoactive||Seizure prevention, Rett syndrome, Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD)|
|Minor, non-psychoactive||Osteoporosis, ALS, Muscular dystrophy|
|Minor, non-psychoactive||Could inhibit growth of cancer cells, osteoarthritis, neurological diseases
|Minor, psychoactive||Diabetes, anxiety, PTSD
|Minor, psychoactive||Bacterial infections, ALS ,appetite stimulant
Note: Any potential medical treatment listed here stems from preclinical/animal testing only, and is simply intended to illustrate the potential application of each cannabinoid rather than a proven benefit.
Scientists also recently discovered two new cannabinoids—THC-P and CBD-P—with research showing that THC-P could potentially be 30 times more potent than THC.
The Future of Minor Cannabinoids
FDA-approved CBD drug Epidiolex has sparked a rising interest in minor cannabinoid trials.
In fact, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has committed to providing funding to strengthen the evidence for minor cannabinoids and their pain relieving properties.
Cannabinoids could also add great value to cancer treatment-related side effects, however, more research is needed to turn potential into proof. With the availability of more robust evidence, the potential medical applications for minor cannabinoids could be much greater than we can imagine.
Timeline: Cannabis Legislation in the U.S.
At the federal level, cannabis is illegal, but state laws differ. This graphic looks at the timelines of cannabis legislation in the U.S.
Timeline: Cannabis Legislation in the U.S.
At the federal level, cannabis is still considered an illegal substance. That said, individual states do have the right to determine their own laws around cannabis sales and usage.
This visual from New Frontier Data looks at the status of cannabis in every state and the timeline of when medical and/or recreational use became legal.
Cannabis Through the Years
In the U.S., the oldest legalese concerning cannabis dates back to the 1600s—the colony of Virginia required every farm to grow and produce hemp. Since then, cannabis use was fairly wide open until the 1930s when the Marihuana Tax Act was enforced, prohibiting marijuana federally but still technically allowing medical use.
Jumping ahead, the Controlled Substances Act was passed in 1970, classifying cannabis as Schedule I drug—the same category as heroin. This prohibited any use of the substance.
However, the 1970s also saw a counter movement, wherein many states made the move towards decriminalization. Decriminalization means that although possessing cannabis remained illegal, a person would not be subject to jail time or prosecution for possessing certain amounts.
By the 1990s, some of the first states passed laws to allow the medical usage of cannabis, and by 2012 two states in the U.S.—Washington and Colorado—legalized the recreational use of cannabis.
Cannabis Legislation Today and Beyond
The MORE Act (the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act) was passed in the House early 2022, and if made law, it would decriminalize marijuana federally.
“This bill decriminalizes marijuana. Specifically, it removes marijuana from the list of scheduled substances under the Controlled Substances Act and eliminates criminal penalties for an individual who manufactures, distributes, or possesses marijuana.”– U.S. Congress
Cannabis still remains illegal at the federal level, but at the state levels, cannabis is now fully legal (both for medicinal and recreational purposes) in a total of 22 states.
Over 246 million Americans have legal access to some form of marijuana products with high THC levels. Looking to the future, many new cannabis markets are expected to open up in the next few years:
The earliest states expected to open up next for recreational cannabis sales are Minnesota and Oklahoma. There is always a lag between legalization and actual sales, wherein local regulatory bodies and governments set standards. States like Kentucky, on the other hand, aren’t likely to even legalize medicinal cannabis until 2028.
It’s estimated that by 2030, there will be 69 million cannabis consumers in the country, up 33% from 2022.
Overall, the U.S. cannabis market is likely an important one to watch as legal sales hit $30 billion in 2022. By the end of the decade, that number is expected to be anywhere from $58 billion to as much as $72 billion.
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