Kristina Etter   |   June 05, 2021

Lifting the Veil: U.S. Cannabis Research Ramping Up

As cannabis research restrictions loosen, we can only expect what we know about cannabis to grow exponentially in the coming years.
Kristina Etter spent 20 years in corporate IT with a niche in mobile technology and IoT in agriculture. Today, she combines her love of technology with a passion for cannabis as the Editorial Director for Cannabis Tech.

One of the arguments we continue to hear from cannabis naysayers is that there’s not enough research to support the claims. While this sounds like a valid complaint, the truth of the matter is that globally, cannabis is one of the most researched drugs on the planet. Dr. David Bearman, M.D., Executive V.P. of the American Academy of Cannabinoid Medicine, stated in 2018, “there have been more than 25,000 articles printed in peer-reviewed medical journals on cannabis, cannabinoids, and the endocannabinoid system, since 1995.”

NORML recently updated those statistics and summarized the data, highlighting that before 1999, there were less than 5,000 studies published. But since 2010, nearly 23,000 scientific papers have been published; and the numbers are growing annually. According to data from the National Library of Medicine and PubMed.gov, researchers published more than 3,500 peer-reviewed scientific papers in 2020 alone.

Since 1970, as a Schedule I substance, government-approved marijuana research in the United States was extraordinarily limited and came with miles of red tape. As laws continue to change and research restrictions loosen, it’s safe to assume that what we know about cannabis today will pale in comparison to what we learn about cannabis over the next decade.

But, until the shroud of restriction is lifted, some research facilities and even cannabis producers are taking matters into their own hands.

Recognizing the Need for Data

A hemp-derived CBD producer, CBDistillery is making strides to better understand the consumer and how the various cannabinoids work for them. Through a partnership with Releaf App, an app designed to help consumers track and monitor their cannabis consumption and results, CBDDistillery hopes to provide the foundational data necessary to encourage higher-level research.

Speaking with Tony Schwartz, Director of Affiliate and Strategic Partnerships at Balanced Health Botanicals, which includes their flagship brand CBDistillery, he explained why these partnerships are critical to the industry’s future.

“One of the main reasons we engaged in the partnership with Releaf is because there’s so much alignment around what these studies could mean, in terms of equipping consumers with critical information, as it relates to how well products perform for their specific needs” Schwartz stated.

With this partnership, CBDistillery and Releaf App are seeking 1,000 volunteers to participate in two studies to evaluate the efficacy of hemp-derived Cannabidiol (CBD) and Cannabinol (CBN). Consumers who participate in the private studies, or “Pathfinder Missions,” will receive products from CBDistillery and will be asked to answer a series of questions using the Releaf App for a period of 30 or 60 days. To sign up for the research, apply here.

Schwartz hopes that the data collected from their research could help stimulate research at a higher level. “We’re trying to be as patient as we can until things do open up a bit for us where we can start executing on some higher-level research, but you’re right, and until then, we’re sort of left to our own devices to invest in and participate in these studies.”

Cannabis Producers Partnering with Research Facilities

In a podcast a few weeks ago, Cannabis Tech spoke with the leadership team at Stillwater Brands. As a cannabis consumables producer in Colorado, Stillwater produces water-soluble THC and CBD, QuickSticks (flavored sublingual powder), and nano-infused gummies. A leading cannabis edibles manufacturer, the company decided just producing the products wasn’t enough - they wanted to prove the science.

By partnering with Colorado State University, the company is starting to do research to prove the efficacy of their nano-formulations and monitor the absorption rate of their cannabinoids. By taking voluntary blood tests from test subjects before and after consuming their products, Stillwater Brands and the university researchers intend to prove or disprove the efficiency of nano-formulated edibles and beverages.

Now, imagine pairing the information collected from this study with the brainwave technology from Zentrela. Suddenly, researchers not only know how much of the cannabinoid is getting into the bloodstream, but they have measurable data for impairment to compare and contrast. With fewer restrictions on cannabis research, the possibilities are unlimited. While none of the aforementioned studies are considered clinical data, recent headlines suggest the doors to these opportunities are opening as well.

DEA Announces New Marijuana Sources for Research

For decades, any US Government-approved cannabis research had to use cannabis grown by the one, and only, federally approved marijuana grow in the nation at the University of Mississippi. Unfortunately, the products produced by the college were a far cry from the products being sold in the legal market.

Although the DEA started accepting applications for additional manufacturers during the Obama era, nothing moved forward until recently. According to a recent article on Marijuana Moment, a number of organizations, including Biopharmaceutical Research Company, Scottsdale Research Institute, and Groff NA Hemplex LLC received notification that their applications had been “conditionally accepted” and are taking the next steps in the approval process.

According to the article the DEA stated, “Each applicant will then be authorized to cultivate marijuana—up to its allotted quota—in support of the more than 575 DEA-licensed researchers across the nation.”

Without question, the doors to fully demystifying cannabis are starting to open and we can be certain that the number of cannabis studies will only continue to rise. As for the forthcoming results and how they’ll impact our understanding of the herb, the possibilities are limitless.

 

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