Leading cannabis companies are injecting science into their businesses to make the most of the industry’s move to $1 trillion in value…
Science is taking over cannabis.
Just last week, I spent two days at the 2019 Cannabis Science Conference East here in my hometown of Baltimore, Maryland.
And, let me tell you, there is a lot of science driving the cannabis market forward that will lead to a ton of profit opportunities.
We’re mapping genomes, studying plant fertilization, and learning how to prescribe cannabis to treat ailments as fast as possible.
During the course of two days, there were over 60 presentations covering topics ranging from equipment and methods to analyze cannabis plants, extracts, and cannabinoids, techniques to optimize cultivation, and the latest developments in medical cannabis research.
The companies most adept at deploying the latest science has to offer will enjoy much higher profit margins than those slow to adapt.
But the science goes far beyond the field or greenhouse.
Mapping the Small Stuff
Most cannabis plants are cloned, which means the genes of any generation of a cannabis strain exactly match those of the generations that preceded them.
However, it turns out that most growers aren’t actually growing the strains they think they are growing. That means a grower might market a THC-dominant strain when it has a CBD-dominant strain filling up its greenhouse.
That doesn’t help in supplying a consistent product, and it also means a cannabis firm isn’t living up to what it’s promising to consumers.
To ensure that the right strains are being grown, many companies are now performing genetic tests on the clones before planting.
Researchers have also developed a preliminary map of the 12,000 unique proteins of the cannabis plant. Called the plant’s proteome, these proteins serve a lot of functions, including playing a big role in synthesizing cannabinoids and terpenes in the plant. Gaining a better understanding of these proteins will drive discovery of new ways to synthesize natural cannabis compounds outside of the plant.
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That’s a promising path for cannabis, and it may turn out that more cannabinoids will be brewed in labs than grown in the field.
And like the human gut, the cannabis plant is teeming with microbes.
It has a microbiome. Some are beneficial; others are toxic – either to humans or the plant. By mapping the genetics of the cannabis microbiome, researchers can develop methods to quickly test for the presence of bad bugs.
More Room for Testing Services
And it was clear from the conference that cultivators and producers are testing more.
As a young cannabis plant matures, it is tested far more frequently, at every stage of growth.
The concern is not just safety, but dialing in precision on the cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds. This helps consumers get the same experience from the same product, every time.
As I’ve stated many times, brands are built on consistency, and this is a perfect example of why science is at the heart of building a great brand.
All of this means that scientists are working on precision.
Part of that precision will come from specific lighting and soil conditions. These factors can have a profound effect on the compounds in a cannabis plant. Growers used to rely on institutional knowledge and their own experience. It was more art than science, and the knowledge base wasn’t scalable.
But increasingly, growers can depend on established science to grow better, more precise crops.
Precision at Every Level
As cannabis is normalized and taboos disappear, medical research is flat-out booming.
Scientists are working not just on the issues we’ve talked about before like PTSD, opioid replacement, and the like, but also health promotion among the elderly without specific symptoms or diseases.
Big data is also starting to get involved.
Many companies are starting to build databases which will have millions of patients and billions of use instances to dial in the precise dosage and formulation for a variety of ailments.
Lifetime members of the Cannabis Investor’s Report can access analyst reports on many companies applying big data to their business. We call it “The Vault,” which now contains customized data and in-depth reports on over 150 publicly traded cannabis stocks – and growing. To get the most complete picture of the cannabis market, make sure to check out the NICILytics database.
With the taboo starting to fade away from cannabis, academia is becoming more involved in researching marijuana. Cannabis research at universities in the U.S. is still banned, but a growing number of universities are allowing doctors and scientists to do research on their own time in the cannabis field.
Away from direct research, some universities are introducing cannabis-specific courses to their curriculums. You can read more about this trend in a report from last week.
To Be Whole or to Isolate?
In addition to the presentations, the halls were filled with cannabis talk.
One debate that echoed through the halls was whether cannabis flower and simple extracts are superior to cannabinoid isolates. This dialogue has been building for some time and has burgeoned into a real schism in the industry. Die-hards on either side have dug in their heels.
On the extract side, the argument is that the best results from cannabis treatments come from what’s called the entourage effect.
This refers to the effect of consuming all of the terpenes and other cannabinoids found in a cannabis plant, whether by smoking the flower or consuming extracts that maintain this natural profile of compounds. The extract crowd claim that these various compounds work together to create far better effects than a user can achieve from consuming isolates.
Isolates are purified formulations of CBD, THC, or any cannabinoid, for that matter. All terpenes and other cannabinoids are stripped out.
The isolate side argues that isolates allow for higher doses of a specific cannabinoid and more predictable results.
The truth is that there is absolutely room for both.
The power of natural extracts is indeed disruptive, particularly to the Big Pharma profit model. But there are simply too many cases where isolates make far more sense. Not to mention, tailoring cannabinoids to work even better with the chemical pathways in the human body can create more effective therapeutic drugs – and valuable, patentable intellectual property.
In the coming days, we’ll be posting interviews from the conference on NICI TV. We talked to leaders from all across the cannabis industry, and believe me when I say you won’t want to miss these.
Finally, I wanted to remind you that I spoke with legendary investor Tom Gentile. He is the most recent addition to our Advisory Board, and Cannabis Investor’s Report members can see what we talked about in this recent video.
Executive Director, National Institute for Cannabis Investors
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6 responses to “Science Is Driving the Cannabis Market Forward – Here’s How”
April 15 2019