Scientific and medical research into cannabis – specifically the different ways that the plant interacts with an individual’s endocannabinoid system – has largely been restricted to date because cannabis remains a Schedule 1 illegal substance in the United States.
With federal legalization perhaps on the horizon (ten states and Washington, DC, have legalized cannabis for recreational use for adults over 21 and a whopping 33 states have legalized medical cannabis), the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids is increasingly becoming a target of biopharmaceutical companies.
At the time of publishing, the FDA has already approved three cannabinoids as drugs. In 2018, the agency approved Epidiolex (a cannabidiol or CBD) oral solution for the treatment of seizures associated with two severe forms of epilepsy. The FDA has also approved the synthetic cannabinoids dronabinol and nabilone to treat nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy. Dronabinol is also approved to treat loss of appetite and weight loss in people with AIDS.
Anticipating more science focused on specific cannabinoids, targeted conditions, and clinical research support rather than anecdotal and empirical evidence that don’t have clinical research support, I reached out to a couple major medical research companies currently studying cannabis to learn more about what they’re discovering.
The first company I reached out to was Nexien BioPharma
Their CEO, Alex Wasyl, told me that:
“Nexien is currently developing pharmaceutical cannabinoid medications to treat very specific medical conditions. Our recently acquired, wholly owned subsidiary, CRx Bio, has filed three U.S. provisional patent applications related to the treatment of convulsive disorders, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, and targeted pain disorders. Together the combined teams will push the research and development of advanced pharmaceutical cannabinoid formulations with the objective of enhancing the bioavailability, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacodynamics of cannabinoids.”
Another company that I was able to get in touch with for this story was Tikun Olam, which prides itself as the world’s new benchmark for trusted, consistent, clinically-tested cannabis. Now coming to America, Tikun plans to build on the brand heritage, cultivation experience, and clinical research established by Tikun Olam Israel. Their mission is to help educate the American market and open new categories of cannabis as a wellness product.
When asked about what their company has been working on, Annabelle Manalo, PhD, Scientific Director at Tikun Olam, told me:
“At Tikun Olam, we have a variety of groups that are studying an array of conditions. We have significant data on the symptomatic relief and reduction of medications on Crohn’s disease, autism, and cancer, to name a few. With strains that are molecularly defined, we have initiated studies beyond proof of concept, safety and efficacy, in order to characterize cannabinoid influence on specific diseases at the cellular level.”