On Wednesday, October 17, Canada legalized its recreational marijuana industry, making it officially the biggest legal weed marketplace in the world. Stoners nationwide are celebrating the historic milestone, which also makes the sale of cured cannabis and its derivatives, such as oils and edibles, legal in commercial stores. However, they are not the only excited ones. Scientists are rejoicing, as well.
Scientific Opportunity in Canada Pot Industry
The decision of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s federal government to legalize marijuana is not just a perceptive one as far as increasing tax revenues, tourism, and reforming criminal justice goes, it is also, according to scientists, a long-awaited opportunity to research the medical potential of the cannabis plant. The intense study could yield promising new treatments for the entire medical community.
Thus far, restricted studies find huge potential for cannabis as a therapeutic aid. According to the International Journal of Science, studying cannabis has long been near impossible, since its illegal status prohibits researchers from gaining access to the plant and publishing their results. The article discusses a case in point, namely that of Jonathan Page.
Past Hurdles in Studying Marijuana
Page, an accomplished plant biologist who, while residing in Germany, studied specifically the genes that influence oil production in marijuana plants. However, upon returning to Canada, his homeland, Page faced an impossible challenge. He applied to Canada’s National Research Council, or NRC, for a job. During the interview, he proposed researching how cannabis plants produce cannabinoids, a class of molecules that influence the human body in a variety of complex ways.
The NRC hired him for the position he applied for, but when he arrived for his first day of work, his new boss told him that the research project would not go ahead. This is because cannabis, at that time, was an illegal, prohibited substance. As such, the NRC could not touch it for research. Now, with legal weed a new reality in Canada, there is no more obstacle to learning about cannabis for pharmaceutical use.
Potential of Cannabis for Pharmaceutical Use
With cannabis now legal both medicinally and recreationally in Canada, the country’s leading scientists are lauding the new opportunity to lead global research on the cannabis genome, along with all of its possible pharmaceutical applications. These ranges from managing chronic pain, stimulating appetite, calming muscular tremors, treating seizures, and more, as well as even more as-yet unknowns.
The delay of other countries to legalize marijuana, such as the United States could lead to scientific brain drain, since they still prohibit marijuana research. Back in 2013, after restriction in doing his life’s work, Page quit his government position at NRC to start his own cannabis research company, which he named Anandia. He is not the only one to rearrange his career around the issue of legalization.
Greg Baute is another. Baute was a researcher for Monsanto in California who specialized in breeding tomatoes. This year, he left his job in the United States to join Page in Canada at Anandia, where he now leads the company’s genetics and breeding program. In speaking to Science, Baute explained his move, “There are these super basic, huge questions that need to be answered. You can do these really straightforward experiments and get these huge results.” However, the U.S. will not allow him to.
Role of Cannabis for Pharmaceutical Use
Many studies, privately funded or awarded under specialized research programs, prove cannabis very beneficial to human health. Cannabis plants contain more than 100 known cannabinoids, each of which has its own unique medical properties. Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the most famous since it is responsible for making users stoned. Cannabidiol, or CBD, is another with immense medicinal potential.
These compounds, called phytocannabinoids, are compatible with the body’s own endocannabinoid system, which has the crucial job of regulating and balancing most functions, including sleep cycles, memory, mood, pain perception, immune response, and so much more. By binding to or influencing endocannabinoid receptors, such as CB1 and CB2, phytocannabinoids lend critical support.
We already know, proven in numerous global studies, that phytocannabinoids, found exclusively in cannabis plants, can help to relieve pain, reduce frequency and severity of seizures, control nausea and stomach upset, increase hunger, fight obesity, calm muscular disorders, treat depression and anxiety, remove stress, and even kill cancer cells in laboratory tests.
The more we learn about cannabis for pharmaceutical use, the more we are able to provide new therapeutic uses for it. Scientists are discovering different cannabinoids and their mechanisms of action in the human body, and all prove crucial to health and happiness thus far. With the Canada pot industry opening the door for intense scientific study; it will not be long before pot becomes the go-to treatment.
Cannabinoid therapy has no side effects. It is safe and effective in treating a myriad of proven conditions, with more to come soon. People worldwide are already ditching dangerous, highly addictive prescription drugs for different strains of marijuana, and in the 10,000 years of recorded cannabis use, there has never been a single fatality attributed to its consumption.