|By Alex Koyfman | Thursday, December 24, 2015 Wealth Daily|
|Okay, so you might be getting a bit tired of hearing all the talk about cannabis decriminalization and legalization that’s been going around lately.
Yes, most of us think it’s a good thing, with polls showing that popular support for legalization has been solid since 2012 and is still growing.
Yes, the jurisdictions that have done it have already seen substantial tax benefits from the commerce it generates.
And yes, the stuff is far less harmful than booze and cigarettes, while somehow remaining technically less legal than methamphetamine and cocaine (based on the maximum fines and prison times a felony possession conviction will carry, as well as the nebulous factors of “illegality” and “potential danger” in the eyes of the federal government).
Less common are the facts of just how big of an economic impact it has on the U.S. as a whole — close to $100 billion per year, when considering what the legal market would be worth, combined with the resources expended on the arrest, trial, and incarceration of marijuana-related offenses across all 50 states.
But I’m not here to talk about all that.
Doesn’t Take an Oracle to See This One
The cannabis market is here to stay, and there’s nothing that any of us are going to do about it.
Within 10 years — and most likely within the next presidential term — you’re going to see cannabis change and advance a wide spectrum of industries, including but not limited to pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, and even materials and manufacture.
The reason I know this is because the legislation has been the only thing holding it back.
Cannabis, aside from being the notorious or (depending on who you ask) beloved recreational drug, is one of the world’s most versatile natural materials.
Easier to grow than cotton for clothing and far less taxing on the environment than trees for paper, it’s a wonder substance — even when it doesn’t come anywhere near the human bloodstream.
But with legislation finally loosening up on this plant, research is ramping up like nothing we’ve seen in recent history.
There are a growing number of mid- to large-sized pharma brands out there already piling tons of money into learning more about cannabis and its most famous active ingredient, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Among them are the $2 billion Insys Therapeutics (NASDAQ: INSY) and $1.5 billion GW Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: GWPH).
And while that bodes very well for the future of cannabis-derived products, the truly prospective corner of this market lies elsewhere.
Some Study… Others Create
Botanical gene manipulation isn’t a new thing at all.
In fact, botanists have been achieving what is essentially organic gene “splicing” since the first time somebody grafted the branch of one plant to the living stalk of another — creating a “graft-chimera.”
However, now that we’re operating on a molecular level and able to manipulate specific genes to create specific effects, the study and industry of cannabis is about to reach a whole new level.
Meaning that while that famous buzz is still on the minds of many research programs, the pursuit of legitimately medicinal applications is just as strong.
Aside from THC, there are more than 80 other compounds within the plant — all of which have potential for pharmacological value.
There is potential for treating neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s; there is potential for addiction-free, withdrawal-free pain suppression therapies; and there is a spectrum of other avenues where this incredibly complex family of molecules has proven to have therapeutic power.
But like I said, the key is in studying all of the 80-plus cannabinoid compounds to see which can be used for what.
Surprisingly, that level of research isn’t being carried out at all the brand names that come to mind when you hear the term Big Pharma.