There is no denying that research and development (R&D) is essential to pretty much every industry under the sun. However, with the ever-expanding cannabis legalization process in the United States, it is increasingly important to learn more about this controversial plant. Researchers need to dive deeper into what science already knows and what has yet to be discovered. In the future, the hope is that people will be able to take full advantage of the many beneficial properties of marijuana.
The medical community is fascinated with the therapeutic potential of cannabis. However, doctors cannot put their patients at risk with underdeveloped products. The tight restrictions imposed by the federal government have allowed for very minimal investigation efforts. Cannabis companies are placing their bets on conducting more research to make more innovative products and better meet cannabis users’ wants and needs.
The national cannabis market is expected to grow exponentially in the following years, and that is what has driven farmers to increase the plant’s cultivation volumes. Yet, the industry’s still in diapers when trying to understand what the benefits of marijuana are capable of achieving. State legalization and R&D are the only ways to gather the necessary data for producers, manufacturers, sellers, doctors, marijuana consultants, and consumers to make more educated decisions.
Why Is Widespread State Legalization Essential to the Future of Cannabis R&D?
Even though marijuana has already been legalized in several U.S. territories, it is still criminalized under federal law. Much like heroin and other hard drugs, cannabis falls into the “Schedule I” classification. Consequently, researchers need to apply for a cannabis research license from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Otherwise, they need to abide by heavy federal restrictions.
State legalization and R&D allow scientists to gather critical information. Data is the most substantial tool researchers have to identify the cold-pressed facts about marijuana usage. However, for these valuable details to be collected, in-vivo clinical trials in humans are needed. Animal testing can only do so much in the name of science.
Conducting clinical research on cannabis and its many compounds, however, is almost an impossible task. Besides the aforementioned research license they must obtain from the DEA, investigators also need to follow three additional steps:
- Obtaining some license-grade cannabis from the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA)
- Going through an extensive evaluation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
- Getting FDA approval in the application and research protocol for an investigational new drug
Not everything is bad news, though. The nationwide wave of legalization is encouraging pharmaceutical companies and medical professionals to push forward with the much-needed conversation about research and development. The current federal administration claims a marijuana reform will be a top priority in the next few fiscal years. The new laws will emphasize the importance of cannabis state legalization and R&D.
What If Cannabis R&D Restrictions Are Not Lifted?
While recreational consumers might not immediately feel the effects of the current limitation, it’s medical users who will miss out on better treatments. If legislators do not ease the tight control they have over cannabis research and development, scientist cannot work towards:
- More innovative delivery systems
- Alternatives to smoking and vaporization
- Better scientific backup and advisory
- More in-vivo clinical studies
- FDA regulation and approval
- Optimizing the production processes
- Minimizing production costs
These advancements would significantly improve America’s growing relationship with marijuana. They could help medical professionals give more accurate prescriptions, and also help patients have better access to more precise information on the effects of over-the-counter cannabis products.
What Does Science Already Know About Cannabis?
The most relevant cannabinoids to date—or at least the ones with therapeutic properties we understand—are THC and CBD. Although similar in composition, both substances have different effects. THC produces psychoactive reactions but it can help reduce pain, insomnia, low appetite, and anxiety. CBD is excellent for reducing inflammation, preventing seizures, mitigating depression symptoms, and decreasing chronic migraines.
It’s great that physicians and users can grasp the potential outcomes of consuming these two compounds. However, the average marijuana plant holds more than 120 cannabinoids the industry knows pretty much nothing about. These chemicals also interact with the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the human endocannabinoid system (ECS) and release neurotransmitters that produce different effects within our bodies. These cannabinoids, among many other things, are what researchers so urgently want to investigate.
Why Do We Need More Cannabis Research?
Studying the public health impact of cannabis consumption and accessibility is an absolute must these days. The industry is dealing with a massive knowledge gap that needs to be filled immediately. As therapeutic use increases, patient safety becomes a growing concern for all medical professionals and cannabis advocates.
Science still has very little data on the potential risks or benefits of accumulated exposure to marijuana. In consequence, physicians are caught up in a constant process of trial and error when trying to guide their patients. They often have to “guesstimate” the correct dosage and hope for the best. In some cases, they cannot confidently prescribe medicinal marijuana without fearing adverse medication interactions.
If only researchers could proceed more conventionally, all this information would probably already be available and scientifically backed. Marijuana users would not be left to fend for themselves while being forced to depend on anecdotes to decide if they should use a specific cannabis product. There’s no doubt state legalization and R&D are the industries fastest route to learning more about:
- The chemicals present in different strains
- Therapeutic properties of marijuana for specific health concerns
- Potential side effects
- Safer dosing methods
- Techniques for a more precise and even ingestion
- Cannabinoid extraction
- New strain development
- Plant growth optimization
- Greenhouse cultivation development
How Do State Legalization and R&D Affect You?
State legalization and R&D work hand in hand to help science advance in the path towards more educated marijuana usage. If you’re a cannabis entrepreneur, you must keep an eye out for the marijuana legislation reforms that are sure to come soon. When in doubt, book an appointment with a trustworthy cannabis consulting firm.
M Consulting Experts are here to help you answer all your questions regarding the cannabis industry. Contact us today and let us help your cannabis business succeed.