May 07, 2019

2018 was an eventful year for the cannabis industry.

Canada started paving the way for recreational use, and numerous other US states followed in their footsteps.

Essentially, much of the controversy surrounding the cannabis plant finally started reaching its dawn. However, there is still quite a way to go before medical cannabis is recognized by the professional medical industry and legalized globally.

Now that we’re well into 2019, we thought it would be a perfect time to take a quick look back at the evolution of medical cannabis and try to predict the changes we can expect in the months and years ahead.

The Cannabis Industry in 2018, A Quick Look Back

On 17 October 2018, the federal Cannabis Act came into effect and made Canada the second country in the world, after Uruguay, to formally legalize the cultivation, possession, acquisition and consumption of cannabis and its by-products. In fact, Canada was the first G7 and G20 nation to do so. This groundbreaking shift in culture set in motion a series of events paving the way for the legalization of the recreational cannabis industry.

In 2018, the District of Columbia and 10 states including Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington, all adopted the most expensive laws legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, Europeans also started opening up more and embracing the medical properties of cannabis, a fact reflected not only by the legislation of several countries but also by the recent investments made in the industry. Europeans were not only seeing the benefits of medical cannabis, but it’s financial aspect as well.

2019 Cannabis Recommendations By World Health Organization

Despite the fact that they announced their intent to reevaluate their position on medical cannabis, the World Health Organization (WHO) postponed their recommendations for several months. Nonetheless, at the start of 2019 the World Health Organization finally recognized cannabis as a medicine and formally proposed that legislators take a “more rational” approach to drug laws.
WHO’s new position on medical marijuana helped to influence numerous other countries to reconsider their prohibition laws and enter a new era in western medicine.

Where The Research Is Heading

Today, much of the recent cannabis research being conducted is focused on the field of neurology, with the medical community hoping to utilize cannabis to help control disorders such as Alzheimer or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Several clinical studies have also indicated hemp’s potential to inhibit the progress of several autoimmune diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis or multiple sclerosis.

A particular study showed that by inhibiting the formation of new blood vessels combined with a complex process of programmed cell death, cannabis could reduce the spreading of some types of cancer cells. These recent discoveries still require more research, but they show that cannabis can have a far greater medical application that it was believed just a few short years ago.

Safety Considerations

Despite its prohibition history, when compared to traditional prescription drugs, marijuana’s safety record looks very promising. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, there haven’t been any recorded cases of cannabis overdose. WHO also declared that all studies show that the estimated lethal cannabis dose for humans is so high that it simply cannot be achieved by conventional use.

The biggest concern regarding marijuana involves its psychological effects, more specifically its mood-altering effects. It can pose higher risks psychiatrically sensitive people like adolescents or people with a history of psychiatric illnesses. There is also the issue of dosage when it comes to medical treatments, as it can’t be properly synthesized into conventional treatments which take a long time to produce effects. Smoking the weed continues to be the fastest way to induce its effects, and it is also the easiest way to control the dosage.

What The Future Holds

The marijuana industry is clearly poised to bloom in the years ahead, with Europe being the major player, from a financial point of view at least. However, despite the recent changes in legislation, it will take at least 5 years for this industry to be regulated enough to actually serve its purpose. The medical community also needs to gather more conclusive data to support new investments in the field of researches.

Join us at Medcann World Forum Malta, the premier medical cannabis event on November 19-21.