By: Cecil King
Global Cannabis Research Steals Millions From Missouri
The federal government’s continued prohibition of cannabis is allowing billions of dollars in research expenditures to flow into other countries with less restrictive laws making Missouri lose millions.
The Czech Republic, Israel, Romania, Paraguay, Canada, and Colombia are among the countries who have established national medical cannabis programs. By allowing medicinal use of cannabis, these countries have also opened the door to millions of dollars in research and development for medical research scientists to create unique cannabis medicines.
This economic reality has never been more clear than at the convening of the first annual 2016 international CannaTech Cannabis Innovation Summit held in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Israel earlier this year. The symposium brought together researchers, healthcare professionals, investors and innovators from all over the world to discuss clinical cannabis research at an international level.
“Years of clinical testing and development into new cannabis strains has clearly made Israel a global player, if not a leader, in medical marijuana research,” proclaimed Gidha De Carcer, CEO of New Frontier Financials a US-based cannabis data analytics firm and a Summit participant.
While preparing the company’s Global Cannabis Market Report, Carcer said, “we surveyed all legal cannabis efforts across the world, and were utterly astonished by the extent of innovation and advances made both in cannabis cultivation and bio-tech development,” by the many research efforts in Israel and across the globe.
Israel created 1,400 new startups in 2015. The investment dollars flowing into Israel per capita outstrips the US by more than 2 to 1: Israel ($423), USA ($186), Europe ($16) and China ($14). For every $1.00 invested in new startups in Israel, investors got back $1.50. Israel’s advanced medical cannabis program has more than 25,000 patients and continues to develop new strains and advanced cultivation techniques.
Many of the cannabis innovation companies in Israel could be located in Missouri. The Show-Me State has more life science and bio tech scientists than neighboring states Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas and is on par with Illinois.
Missouri ranks 3rd in patents issued for bio pharmaceuticals. University of Missouri-Columbia and Washington University account for 90% of all university life science research in the state.
While Missouri managed to raise a respectable $1.13 billion in bio tech investment capital from 2010 to 2015, it pales in comparison to Israel’s $7.2 billion of investments in 2015, up from $5.0 billion in 2014.
According to CannaTech Summit Chairman, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam who discovered the THC compound in 1964, there is still plenty of work to be done. “We are still missing modern, large clinical trials,” says Mechoulam.
A small clinical trial in epilepsy was done 35 years ago. “Only now,” says Mechoulam, “is this trial being repeated and expanded with very positive results.” Animal trials on auto-immune disease diabetes type 1 are also yielding promising results with cannabidiol, but “no clinical trial is even planned.”
Cannabidiol is also a drug showing promise on par with other pharmaceuticals treating schizophrenia, “without causing the side effects of most such drugs,” offers Mechoulam. “Again, no additional clinical trials are being reported.”
Another aspect where data is badly needed is the so-called “entourage effect.” Mechoulam says “we know very little about these effects,” and ponders, “why do preparations from Cannabis sativa vary in their effects from those of Cannabis indica, when the levels of THC and CBD are essentially the same?”
These questions may never be answered by research scientists in Missouri.
Calls for continued prohibition in Missouri by associations of prosecutors, narcotics officers, police chiefs and sheriff groups, with vested financial interests in mass incarceration, are now being identified as anti-science, anti-economic and anti-health statements harmful to the Show-Me State’s economic future.
Missouri, at a bare minimum, should be allowed to decide at the ballot box whether to allow medical use of cannabis and join the 28 states who have passed similar measures.