The United States is undergoing a paradigm shift with regards to cannabis studies and legislation. Here’s a look at where we are with hemp, marijuana, and CBD, and what the future holds for the green revolution.
Imagine this: you have a headache. Staring at a computer screen too long? Maybe a lack of sleep. You don't know. But it's late, and your head is pounding.
You go into your local grocery store and purchase a single serving of 150mg CBD oil. You down it right there in the parking lot, and your headache is gone by the time you make it to your house.
Another scenario: your friend is trying to quit smoking cigarettes. It's gross. It's unhealthy. It's expensive. And, again, it's gross. But quitting can be one of the hardest things to do, and traditional nicotine gums and patches just aren't cutting it.
Enter CBD transdermal patches, a way to help keep people calm and centered. With these patches there’s no compulsion to smoke. A way to cut nicotine out of your life entirely, in a very healthy and inexpensive way.
Imagine another friend that’s trying to stop taking Vicodin or Oxycontin, hard drugs that cause serious addiction, for their pain. What if this wearable patch could time-release CBD and help wean someone off these drugs? Could there really be a cheap and effective treatment to curb the opioid epidemic?
Imagine going into a smoothie shop and purchasing a smoothie with the specific terpenes and cannabinoids that are best for you. A handcrafted energy drink, custom made to you and for you.
What if doctors could prescribe personalized cannabis-based medicine, designed to maximize its healing effects for you and you alone?
Where We Are
It is currently 2019. Two major things of note have recently happened, with regard to the budding CBD industry in America. First off is the successful passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, which federally allows the cultivation of hemp as long as it contains less than 0.3% THC.
Secondly, there’s the stepping down of FDA head Scott Gottlieb. Gottlieb always emphasized the lack of research and the importance of moving slowly with marijuana regulation and decriminalization, and his stepping down could partially be a result of states wanting to move more quickly.
Single cannabinoid drugs have been on the market since the 1970s, and will continue to be developed in the upcoming years. Currently, there are two cannabinoid drugs on the market in America: Epidiolex and Marinol.
Marinol is an appetite stimulant, a treatment against nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy, as well as a sleep apnea reliever. It is comprised of an oily THC resin packed into softgels.
Epidiolex is an oral solution given to children at least two years of age who are suffering from rare and debilitating forms of epilepsy - Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndromes.
While not yet on the market, there are a large number of tests and clinical trials, ranging from sleep aides to cancer to anti-anxiety medicines for people suffering from depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
When it comes to THC and CBD, there are hundreds of terpenes that cause what’s known as the entourage effect — an occurrence where each cannabinoid present works in tandem to increase potency. This entourage effect could significantly impact CBD’s treatment of chronic pain and the aforementioned ailments. Unfortunately, due to current legal regulations, very little research is being done with these terpenes.
Health insurance providers don’t cover CBD drugs, meaning that for a variety of both mental and physical issues the most economical option can be antipsychotics, antidepressants, and opioids. There are a few small operations trying to bridge the gap between hemp legalization and CBD medicines, but it’s a very fringe area of the market.
Transdermal CBD patches are just beginning to get developed. They work like any other time-release patch, releasing CBD directly into the bloodstream over a period of time for a prolonged effect.
Where We’re Going
The next major event regarding CBD will be the 2020 election. The Farm Bill was passed with bipartisan support, and it’s logical to assume that CBD will continue following the path of full legalization regardless of how things shake out in 2020.
However, given past trends, Republican lawmakers are more likely to place stronger restrictions on the substance, whereas Democratic lawmakers are more likely to support more progressive changes. CBD is already legal, but it’s entirely plausible full marijuana decriminalization will take place. Full decriminalization, though not the end game for the legalization movement, is definitely a way station on the journey.
It’s important to have a decriminalization process before going to full legality. Medical marijuana programs are just beginning to launch in different states, and the worst thing would be for medical marijuana to get lost in a wave of recreational use. Decriminalization would enable states to build infrastructure for full legalization while protecting the dignity, authority, and autonomy of medical marijuana programs.
This will also come with a huge societal shift. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of workers will need training. Training on how to breed, cultivate, test, and process marijuana and marijuana products. Educational programs will be deployed throughout the United States to train this upcoming workforce.
As we’ve seen on a state level, following decriminalization, growhouses pop up left and right. Labs form for the sole purpose of breeding plants with specific levels of THC and/or CBD.
Looking forward, a national system of purity will be developed. The result will likely be stronger products, as well as plants bred for specific purposes (cancer, PTSD, etc.).
In effect, this is essentially an expansion on things already happening. However, instead of growing plants for high CBD or low THC concentrations, we will be able to grow them based on what works best for the patients.
Clinical trials will conclude testing, and we will have empirical data correlating CBD usage/intake with decreased symptoms of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and cancer. There will also be data proving CBD’s neuroprotective effects, and subsequently its use in treating Alzheimer’s, brain tumors, autism, and other mental illnesses.
Part of these trials will include terpene research, and doctors will be able to prescribe specific strains, or products made from specific strains, that have just the right amount of each terpene to best fight the ailment.
In all likelihood, within the next 10 years we will have full legalization. The culmination of societal changes, educational programs, medicinal advances, and political shifts will result in a multi-billion dollar industry booming in America.
Eventually we will be able to order cannabis flowers bred to specific concentrations of terpenes, and have drones drop them straight into your grinder. A greener future indeed!
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