Pharmaceutical companies are increasingly betting that marijuana — historically demonized as a leading source of social afflictions — will become a significant player in pain management and potentially bring many other beneficial therapies. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted its first approval of cannabidiol (CBD) medication — the epilepsy treatment Epidiolex — in June 2018, paving the way for other pharma organizations to hop aboard the medical marijuana money train. (11) Projections from Global Market Insights estimate that the revenue of the medical cannabis market will exceed $55 billion by 2024. (2)

Pharma organizations are dumping billions of dollars into investigating new marijuana-based therapies and are even joining forces with established cannabis companies. Sandoz Canada partnered with the licensed cannabis producer Tilray in June 2018 to co-brand non-combustible cannabis products. Many more similar alliances are expected to follow suit as such partnerships prove fruitful. (3)

Presumably, the final hurdle remaining on medical marijuana’s path to legitimacy is its classification as a Schedule 1 drug in the U.S., which equates cannabis with oft-abused drugs with no accepted medical use, such as heroin, peyote, and ecstasy. (4) But that designation may soon change, given that the U.S. Congress is considering legislation removing marijuana from the list of controlled substances and instead placing it under the oversight of federal agencies that would regulate the drug analogously to alcohol. (5)

  • CBD