Is the United States Missing Business and Medical Opportunities by Restricting Cannabis?

The current opinion surrounding the use of marijuana, medicinally and recreationally, is undergoing a rapid shift in the eyes of both the public and select governments across the world. The new wave of options begs the question of how the introduction of legal cannabis will impact society. This could also be one of the larger questions or concerns that is presently delaying the forward movement of legalized cannabis in more areas. One way to help navigate these uncharted waters is to follow the maps that are currently being built, as more countries adopt cannabis into their medical treatments and for recreational use.

The recent legalization of cannabis that came into effect in Canada on October 17 has already offered insights and learnings for other countries looking to decriminalize cannabis.  Another example of where the United States can look for guidance is Israel. The country has definitive marijuana policies in place to guide corporate and public practices in regards to the plant that are carried across the region. Whereas the U.S. policies remain in conflict. A few states have elected to authorize the use of cannabis, but  it is still illegal on a federal level. This lack of an overarching policy has put the United States at a disadvantage when compared to countries already working to incorporate cannabis into their healthcare practices, ultimately resulting in countless missed opportunities through the current administration, from medicinal treatment options to economic sustainability. There’s valid cause for concern as other countries begin taking the lead in vital research, and investment opportunities are taken away from cannabis companies located in the United States.

The major life-changing, and even life-saving benefit that would result from the adoption of new cannabis laws is in the potential for cannabis to improve public health and reduce disease. Currently, cannabinoids, the active constituents of marijuana, are vastly understudied. Without substantial research, doctors and consumers are left in the dark when discussing treatment options.

While some research has been conducted into the efficacy of specific cannabinoids in treating diseases, the full picture of their capability to treat disease remains unknown. At this time, only a few cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), have had studies conducted, neglecting the myriad of other cannabinoids that exist within the plant, and even that data is limited.

The human body is equipped with cannabinoid receptors. They are part of the endocannabinoid system, which helps bring the body balance across multiple areas including, sleep, mood, memory, pain, appetite, reproduction, pain and more. This raises the question of how many illnesses exist today due to the lack of clinical research into the therapeutic effects of cannabinoids? There may be numerous diseases that cannabinoids can help treat, but there’s no way of knowing the full potential without further research.

The benefits of adopting new marijuana policies extend beyond healthcare, with the opportunity to positively impact local economies and communities. In states where cannabis has been legalized, such as Colorado, Nevada and Washington State, local governments have seen an increase in both new jobs, as well as tax revenue. One example of this is Colorado’s recent announcement that the state eclipsed $1 billion in tax revenue from legalized marijuana. These funds were allocated to update schools, fix failing infrastructures, and even fund substance abuse prevention programs aimed at children, benefiting the community as a whole. The remaining states yet to legalize cannabis in any capacity are losing out on the valuable tax revenue and improvements to their hometown.

While the legalization of cannabis, whether for medical or recreational purposes can improve the health and economy of local communities, it needs to be done correctly. Regulating and ensuring quality control over cannabis products will be of the utmost importance for these new laws to work effectively, and for patients to receive the necessary care.

The United States still has a chance to reap the benefits of cannabis from a healthcare, economic and societal standpoint, but as other countries trek ahead, the window of opportunity will continue to close.

Mr. Barad is a core member of Cannabics’s founding team. Prior to becoming CEO at Cannabics, he spent years in the online media world, taking part in many different ventures and businesses. Alongside serving as the CEO of a digital media company for over 13 years, Mr. Barad also participated in other business collaborations in many different areas including, but not limited to, the development and use of big-data and Artificial Intelligence to develop predictive models for decision making processes.

Eyal has a BA in Economics & International Relations from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and an MBA with Honors from Haifa University.

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