The U.S. medical marijuana industry has grown at a 16.2% CAGR between 2009 and 2014 to generate $2 billion in annual revenue, according to IBIS World. With over 1.4 million businesses and a growing number of public companies in the space, investors have a number of options when looking to gain exposure, ranging from large firms running clinical trials to small firms developing delivery systems.
These companies are largely focused on endocannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2, which are thought to be involved with a variety of physiological processes, including appetite, pain-sensation, mood, and memory. By utilizing CBDs found in cannabis, they hope to treat a wide range of medical conditions, including cancers, epilepsy, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, Tourette’s syndrome, and others.
So far, researchers have identified about 100 cannabinoids with the potential to become low-cost treatments for these conditions, counteracting the expensive and frequently toxic drugs and therapies developed by larger, more traditional pharmaceutical companies.
Capitalizing on CBDs
The poster child for cannabis therapeutics is GW Pharmaceuticals plc (NASDAQ: GWPH), which rose from $8.90 per share following its May 2013 initial public offering to over $107 per share in 2014. Currently, the company’s Sativex clinical trials have involved over 3,000 patients being studied for cancer pain treatment, neuropathic pain, arthritis, bladder dysfunction, and other conditions.
While GW Pharmaceuticals’ clinical trials are generally long-term in nature, Cannabis Technologies Inc. (OTCQB: CANLF) (CSE: CAN) aims to shorten the time to market by leveraging its Cannabinoid Drug Design Platform (“CDP”). The technology is designed to rapidly identify new bioactive compounds within the cannabis plant that interact with certain genes responsible for certain diseases.
GW Pharmaceuticals trades with a $1.5 billion compared to Cannabis Technologies’ $15 million market capitalization, which means that the latter involves greater risks in exchange for greater potential reward. Other players in the market include AbbVie Inc.’s (NYSE: ABBV) THC-based Marinol for nausea and Valeant Pharmaceuticals’ Inc.’s (NYSE: VRX) Cesamet cannabinoid for neuropathic pain.
Cannabis Technologies CEO Craig Schneider’s 20 years of experience in the biopharmaceutical industry and capital markets is supplemented by the experience of two leading scientists. With its proprietary CDP platform in place, the team plans to initially focus on its CTI-085 topical formulation for the treatment of glaucoma, which has already shown promise in preclinical and animal trials.
Dr. Sazzad Hossain Ph.D, M.Sc., CSO, has two decades of experience in new drug discovery and natural health product development, including experience as a senior scientist at the Canadian government’s National Resource Council Canada bringing therapies to market. In addition, Dr. Hyder Khoja, Ph.D., M.Sc., A.Ag., brings 17 years of extensive experience in breeding, cultivation, and genetics, helping cover the more agricultural side of the business.
The company’s botanical research team has already begun to develop the individual strains and clones that will produce the raw material bases for future pharmaceutical research. Specific studies are also planned to ascertain how growing methods affect the secondary metabolite content, and to discover how a tight specification can be met while satisfying commercial expectations.
Cannabis Technologies has positioned itself to capitalize on the $2 billion cannabis therapeutics industry with its unique CDP platform and experienced management team. As the company progresses with the development of CTI-085 and expands its botanical research efforts, investors seeking exposure to the rapidly growing medical cannabis industry may want to take a closer look at the stock.
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