If a product is illegal, innovation is a tricky process to measure. For most places, this has been the state of the cannabis industry for decades. However, now that the laws of prohibition are loosening, we have seen innovation opening up, shaping new technologies and allowing new manufacturing practices.

Now, while it might take some time for the stigma of marijuana in the U.S to subside, (thanks to the 820,000 marijuana arrests per year), the cannabis industry is here is changing rapidly, especially as CBD has emerged. CBD is the biggest and best opportunity for the cannabis industry to legitimize itself with the masses, and therefore, enter into mainstream research, availability, funding, and consumption.

The changing face of cannabis

For a long time, it was claimed that marijuana had no medical potential and was at high risk of abuse. As a result, cannabis was largely ignored. However, as medical research evolved, and respected universities and pharmaceutical companies began to study its properties, the potential of the drug began to be realized.

As a result of this increased investment, we have started to see some real innovation, including; the emergence of new cannabis strains, all producing different effects on the body, and a greater understanding of our endocannabinoid system than ever before. And with the mapping of this system being touted for the not too distant future, it is likely, that we ‘ll soon be able to identify, which strain is right for people, according to their specific needs and physiology.

Led by gene technology

Billions of dollars are now being invested in cannabis research worldwide every year. and while little is said about research until a patent application, is successful, we are starting to see more and more patents being successful.

One such paper presented results based on the genetics of CBD-rich and THC-rich strains. The study aimed to understand what, on a genetic level, made the different cannabis strains grow the way they did. It was the first successful study to accurately identify the DNA structure of the plant and changed the way that the entire industry approaches its precious crop.

Medicinal use of cannabis

As research develops, and clinical trials become more widespread, an increasing number of studies are championing the use of cannabis in helping to overcome or reduce the effects of certain diseases.

Many MS sufferers have reported that marijuana to relieve muscle stiffness, while HIV patients have been known to use cannabis to improve appetite. Some cancer patients experience additional pain relief and well-being after consuming cannabis. In some people, cannabis reduces nausea associated with chemotherapy, and for others, it helps to get a good night’s sleep. Patients with Crohn’s disease report less discomfort. People with treatment-resistant depression, PTSD, anxiety, and other ailments have also reported the positive medicinal effects of cannabis. Epilepsy patients, including children, have experienced a remarkable reduction in seizures by consuming cannabis oil.

The list of other conditions, where cannabis is thought to be beneficial is increasing by the day, and thanks to this, big pharma is getting more aggressive with research and investment.

Challenges facing cannabis research

Firstly, and in reality, it will take years for medical researchers to figure out the various benefits of each cannabinoid, and even then it will take a long time for clinical trials to be proven and acted upon.

Secondly, cannabinoids tend to work best when they act in conjunction with one another an effect referred to as the entourage effect. Because of the intricacies of understanding how these combinations work, it is thought that analysis of results will be made more difficult.

Lastly, there is the sheer number of medical applications that need to be investigated. And while ‘big pharma’ will do its best to dominate the medical cannabis market in the coming years, to a large degree, cannabis is playing catch up, to other, more established drugs.

Ian Parkes

Ian has been writing for a number of high growth industries for the past decade. Having plied his trade in the craft beer industry, Ian drew parallels between that and the world of CBD and soon became fascinated. Ian enjoys writing about innovation in the industry, particularly as it relates to the development of the leading brands.

See all posts by Ian Parkes

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