Ask Our Experts 4/14/2019: Are there any other cannabinoids from the plant which might have value on the market?

By J.J. McCoy, Senior Managing Editor, New Frontier Data


Q: Of course, the average consumer knows about the cannabinoids THC and CBD, but are there any others from the plant which might have value on the market?


A: No fewer than 113 different cannabinoids have reportedly been isolated from the cannabis plant. While the best studied among them include tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabinol (CBN), many others are present at very low levels, particularly in commercial cannabis products, which makes it extra difficult for scientists to accurately detect them.

The scientific challenges are daunting, especially when research has been very strictly controlled if not outlawed by federal prohibition. Yet interest is higher than ever, given the legalized medical markets of 33 states and a growing number of countries worldwide.

New Frontier Data projects the medical market to grow at a 12.6% compound annual growth rate through 2025, from $5.0 billion in 2017 to an estimated $12.9 billion in 2025. According to New Frontier Data’s 2018 Cannabis Consumer Survey, 42% of all cannabis users – not just medical consumers – use cannabis to manage pain. Indeed, pain management is one of the most widely cited reasons why American adults consume cannabis.

Last week, the Cannabis Science Conference in Baltimore convened with more than 100 exhibitors and thousands of research scientists, cannabis industry experts, medical practitioners, instrument manufacturers, testing labs, policy makers, investors, and the interested public.

Leah Heise, chief experience officer (CXO) of Mission, 4Front’s branded chain of medical marijuana dispensaries, has been involved both as an attendee and planner of the event. The former CEO of Women Grow, she regularly discusses her own medical experience and motivation in the industry.

“I’m always saddened by the inability of researchers to have access to the tools they need to be allowed to conduct peer-reviewed research in the U.S.,” she said after the event. “Conversely, I’m always blown away by the medical findings of these researchers despite the challenges they face. Cannabis can heal. Period. Maybe not everyone and every condition, but don’t we all have a basic human right to decide how to best treat ourselves?”

In fact, the human body produces its own type of cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids. They can serve crucial functions in regulating one’s mood, sleep, immune response, and pain control. Where endocannabinoid production is lacking, serious health issues may result. The 1988 discovery of the endocannabinoid system has spurred further exploration of how cannabinoids – whether from cannabis plant molecules or synthetic versions developed in laboratories – may provide therapeutic benefits.

That is why phytocannabinoids can provide relief for humans, by replacing what one’s body is failing to produce in sufficient quantities to maintain homeostasis (a stable physiological balance).

Medical reports in recent years have indicated how cannabis production is increasing and that cannabinoid formulations have been changing over the past 20 years, especially in terms of their THC and CBD concentrations. Such reports have come not only from the United States and Canada but also in Israel and several European countries, such as the Netherlands and Italy.

After more than 80 years, change is coming to U.S. federal policy. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will be holding a public hearing on May 31, with written comments being sought from the public. The FDA means to explore potential pathways for dietary supplements and/or conventional foods containing CBD to be lawfully marketed, including possible changes in existing laws.