A unique company in the MMJ space today that is focused on the medical insurance side of the business is Novus Acquisition & Development (OTC: NDEV). Novus provides health insurance and insurance related solutions to the growing wellness and MMJ markets using an innovative cost-saving provider network model that is administered via their wholly-owned Novus Medical Group subsidiary’s Novus MedPlan. The timely rollout of the Novus MedPlan in states where MMJ is legal, which gives patients access to considerable discounts on MMJ products for a modest subscriber fee of under $20 a month, was recently highlighted in Forbes as the number one pick, taking the top slot out of a list of the eight hottest publicly traded companies to draw the interest of investors in this rapidly emerging sector.
As the acceptance of marijuana for treating a broad spectrum of ailments increases throughout the medical community, the first-mover advantage secured by Novus will likely play a greater and greater role in augmenting the success of the entire sector, especially among pharma developers keen to formulate relevant products. Novus has even broader ambitions as well, as evidenced by the company’s recent partnership with established Phoenix, AZ area integrative medicine provider, LifeGuard Wellness Clinic, to provide holistic and integrative medicine coverage using the same tried and true revenue model currently in use by major healthcare insurers. Major insurers have lacked the courage to wade into this Cambrian Sea of MMJ opportunities, largely due to the external regulatory quagmire that lagging federal Schedule 1 Controlled Substance classification represents. There is a great deal of overlap among consumers seeking medical marijuana and the kinds of alternative treatments available through integrative medicine providers, a reality which gives Novus a solid user base on which to grow.
Three Industry Trends That Position Novus MedPlan For Growth
1) Marijuana Legalization and Regulation
With the recent passage of sweeping marijuana legislation in Alaska, Oregon and Washington aimed at legalization, significant decriminalization in Maryland that extends the state’s existing medical marijuana (MMJ) law to make possession resolvable by a minor civil fine instead of criminal penalties, and the legalization of MMJ in states like Minnesota and New York, attitudes towards the medical benefits of cannabis already felt widely among the public are now finding growing expression within the medical community. With high profile medical professionals like renowned neurosurgeon and associate chief of neurosurgery for the biggest hospital in the entire state of Georgia (Atlanta’s Grady Memorial Hospital), Dr. Sanjay Gupta, famously switching his stance last year on MMJ and even subsequently doubling-down for pragmatic, as well as more subjective reasons, MMJ now appears to be becoming more and more acceptable among practitioners of traditional medicine.
Driving this trend is the bedrock science of the human body’s endocannabinoid system and the medical community’s growing understanding of the pharmacology of cannabinoids, like THC, the main psychoactive component in cannabis, and cannabidiol (CBD). The CB1 and CB2 receptors in particular are the main focus of cutting-edge clinical and pharmacological research, as they are present in both the CNS (central nervous system), as well as throughout certain peripheral tissues respectively and are now increasingly seen as playing a key role in a variety of neurological (developing multiple sclerosis and epilepsy treatments detail this quite nicely) and broader physiological processes, ranging from mood and memory, to appetite, inflammation and pain-sensation.
2) Science Driving Medical Community Attitude Change
The recent landmark FDA approval for a study of CBD in pediatric epilepsy at New York University’s Comprehensive Epilepsy Center could put serious wheels on earlier work by Jacobson and Porter of Stanford University, whose study showed an 84% reduction (11% elimination) in seizure frequency among children taking CBD. One of the leading companies in the space today, GW Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: GWPH) has done a tremendous amount of work in the pharmacology of cannabinoids and is developing a broad pipeline of indications, ranging from treatments for MS-related spasticity and neuropathic (chronic) pain, like their Sativex® product, to candidates which are designed to address epilepsy, diabetes, and even schizophrenia. Following suit are established opioid developers like Cara Therapeutics (NASDAQ: CARA), whose CB2 receptor-focused (peripheral tissues) CR701 compound is now in preclinical development for neuropathic pain, as well as Insys Therapeutics (NASDAQ: INSY), whose Dronabinol SG (generic Marinol®, a synthetic form of THC) and similar oral solution could provide much needed relief, especially for opioid resistant pain.
For consumers, the cost of treatment is often a major factor, second only to concerns over the potential efficacy of a given drug; and for drug developers, insurability is often key to commercial success as it creates and stabilizes a revenue pipeline for the company. In Maryland, where MMJ legislation has recently been reinforced by broader efforts to decriminalize possession of small amounts of cannabis, growing concerns have even led to outcry over the unaffordability of initial stipulations set forth by regulators. These stipulations include patients having to pay $100 for an ID card, in addition to the often steep cost of marijuana, which is exacerbated by $250k licenses for growers and $80k licenses for dispensaries, due every two years.
3) Legal Precedent Hallmarks & The VA Bill Signal More Change
Another major indicator of the changing tide within the medical community when it comes to MMJ can be seen in the recent ruling out of the Arizona Court of Appeals, fully exonerating Phoenix-based naturopath Dr. Robert Gear, whose charges of forgery and fraud for signing an MMJ certification without the customary review of a year’s worth of patient records had been previously dismissed. This is seemingly a major shot across the bow of entrenched holdouts within the broader medical community by a growing culture (apparently including the ruling’s opinion author, Judge Patricia K. Norris and two other justices) that is acutely aware of how patients who could clearly benefit from access to MMJ have been made to suffer due to absurd bureaucratic red tape that needlessly turns a healthcare issue into a criminal one.
The times are changing fast, likely because of the untenability of the logistics now apparently tugging hard on doctor’s heart strings when it comes to compassionate patient care, especially among cancer patients and kids with crippling epilepsy. The public’s growing receptivity to MMJ is clearly lighting a bonfire of the vanities underneath the medical community as a whole. The Pew Research Center polling data from earlier this year shows a monumental sea-change among the population, with a majority of Americans now supporting legalization for the first time in over 40 years. Little wonder then at the recent introduction of the bi-partisan Veterans Equal Access Act, which would allow Department of Veterans Affairs physicians to prescribe marijuana for wounded warriors, particularly those suffering from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). The bill has a strong tailwind pushing it forward, especially in light of medical community work like the recent Haifa University study, which detailed marijuana’s efficacy in ameliorating or even preventing PTSD symptoms.
As the walls of prejudice against marijuana come tumbling down within the medical community and this yet-nascent industry approaches a serious tipping point amid a growing body of what is now becoming clinical evidence as to the efficacy of MMJ, Novus stands at the crossroads offering a network solution that benefits multiple aspects of the entire sector.
isclaimer: Except for the historical information presented herein, matters discussed in this article contain forward-looking statements that are subject to certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such statements. Emerging Growth LLC dba TDM Financial, which owns CannabisFN, is not registered with any financial or securities regulatory authority, and does not provide nor claims to provide investment advice or recommendations to readers of this release. Emerging Growth LLC dba TDM Financial, which owns CannabisFN, may from time to time have a position in the securities mentioned herein and may increase or decrease such positions without notice. For making specific investment decisions, readers should seek their own advice. Emerging Growth LLC dba TDM Financial, which owns CannabisFN, may be compensated for its services in the form of cash-based compensation or equity securities in the companies it writes about, or a combination of the two. For full disclosure please visit: http://www.cannabisfn.com/legal-disclaimer/.