Washington Issues First Cannabis Research License - The Future Of Marijuana Research

Ever since medical and recreational marijuana got a market foothold on an international level, scientists have been keen to use this opportunity to do some more research into the amazing effects of cannabis-sourced compounds.

Many researchers were only allowed to do either case studies or survey-based studies on people that were already users. The much more expensive and regulated lab studies were restricted to the privileged few that fully legalized the use of cannabis and came up with proper licensing.

Even after all the science proving the positive effects of cannabinoid compounds, marijuana is still strictly regulated, and it will probably stay that way for a long time to come. The cultivation, usage, and retail rules vary greatly, even within the US. The good news is that many states are jumping on board the decriminalization wave, though.

Although most US states allow for medicinal marijuana usage, only a handful of states have licensing for researchers available. Colorado has already issued its first-ever license, to MedPharm, an R&D facility. Now Washington, not to be outcompeted, follows suit with their first issue to Verda Bio - a biotech company from Seattle.

Many controversies are still running wild, and no one can actually predict what the ultimate ethical and demographic consequences of widespread usage would be.

Pioneers in a New Branch of Cannabusiness

VerdaBio, a company in Seattle has gotten the first-ever Washington-issued cannabis research license. This could prove to be another major source of income for scientists, institutes and pharma companies operating in states where research was legalized.

It’s already known that the compounds in the plant have medicinal properties. Once the pharmaceutical industry jumps aboard, funding will skyrocket and we may see some real progress in actually curing some of the most serious diseases plaguing mankind. The Universities and the Government are already on board, for the most part.

The biggest barriers to entry for this industry vary state-by-state. For Washington state, there’s still a lack of variety in agricultural production licensing, as well as limited processing and retail licenses. The only way to get into the industry, then, is to invest money in the already existing licenses, which are astronomically expensive, at least for retail.

The research licenses, however, aren’t as expensive as retail, and this is where an opportunity lies to get into the industry and on the front lines of R&D in the promising world of medicinal marijuana-sourced compounds.

The system is also set up in such a way that you can’t have a full set of licenses. This is actually good news and was done in-line with already existing laws. The rule exists to prevent monopolization through vertical integration ie. controlling the entire production chain from field to consumer.

How To Get A License

If you’re in Colorado, you can even apply for a research grant. All the information and forms can be found on the official CDPHE website.

For Washington-based facilities and private ventures, here are the detailed instructions along with the expected license fees you’ll need to pay. Make sure you read through what activities the law has defined as covered by the license.

All of these rules were adopted by the Washington State Liquor And Cannabis Board, the same governmental body that issues licenses for liquor producers.

For Massachusetts, you can visit the Cannabis Control Commission website to get informed on the procedures. Here’s a list of fees that different licenses require (valid as of 2018).

What chemical compounds are scientists looking at?

CBD oil and THC are the major derivatives of cannabis processing. Apart from these chemicals, hemp is also being tested and it’s proven to be quite a miraculous material on its own. It’s 3 times stronger than cotton, durable, dyeable and resistant to mold and mildew.

Minor cannabinoids are finally about to get the love they (supposedly) deserve. There are over 60 different cannabinoid compounds. The most famous of which is the delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC), which has already been the main subject of numerous studies that got the medical world gleaming with interest in the first place.

Down the line, we might even be looking at selective breeding that will favor certain minor cannabinoids such as THCV, CBC, CBG and others. Many of these have some specific benefits to humans and can find their place in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries.

CBC has been shown to exert positive effects on the gastrointestinal tract, while others have anti-psychotic or skin-rejuvenating properties. All in all, there’s a lot of potential in minor cannabinoids that we have yet to tap onto.

How Would Marketing Work?

Don’t be surprised if you soon stumble upon crowdfunding campaigns, raising money for cannabis research.

The cannabis industry is growing like a weed (pun intended), and dragging with it an entire spectrum of other industries. Stoner culture is a major contributor to economic growth for states where cannabis was legalized, and even nationally - since many of the accessories can be bought online. Everything from grinders and promo materials such as customized lighters, to entire concerts, themed specifically for recreational smokers. Lots of industries are capitalizing on the legalization of this wondrous plant.

It’s also an industry that relies heavily on intellectual property law, as many of the brands, names, seeds, and processes are protected as trademarks or patents. In fact, the regulation surrounding this industry is so complex that it’s sprouted a new branch of law firms dealing specifically with cannabis.

As far as marketing goes, medical claims would still have to be backed up by data, as the same laws are going to apply for cannabis-derived drugs as any other drug. Advertising is mostly regulated by the FDCA (Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act) and of course, the FDA.