With the growing demand for CBD products and the rise of public cannabis corporations in North America and Europe, the news is filled with new information about cannabis. We explained in a previous blog what ‘cannabis’ means and the difference between the two plant types: marijuana and hemp. They each serve different functions based on their specific composition. These created distinct markets, with their own dynamics and regulatory environments.
The medical cannabis market
The clinical studies on the plant’s ingredients and therapeutic benefits really took off in the 1980s and 1990s, following ground-breaking discoveries that cannabinoid receptors do indeed exist. In fact, the FDA–approved drug Marinol, a synthetic form of THC with various applications, has been on the market for more than a decade, as well as Sativex, the first plant-derived cannabinoid prescription drug. More recently, UK biopharmaceutical company GW Pharmaceuticals developed Epidiolex, approved by the FDA in 2018, which contains a combination of THC and CBD.
The market has developed as numerous countries approved cannabis for medical use, which amounts to 50 countries today. This is the case of Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Israel, several European countries like Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Spain and the United Kingdom, the United States and Uruguay to name a few. In France, the Senate gave the green light to a two-year experimentation of medical cannabis, which is still waiting government approval to kick-start. Big pharmaceutical companies, although cautious in their approach to marijuana and hemp, are entering the race: giant Teva Pharmaceuticals signed a deal with medical cannabis company Canndc to distribute its products in Israel; Sanofi, Pfizer and Merck have registered cannabinoid-related clinical trials in the US and Canada; Johnson & Johnson admitted a cannabinoid biotech company in its incubator. The global medical cannabis market size is estimated to be $6 billion in 2019.
The wellness cannabis market
‘Wellness cannabis’ refers to hemp and hemp-based products exclusively. All products marketed for wellness benefits are extracted from the hemp plant, which does not contain more than 0.2% of THC, and therefore doesn’t provide the ‘high’ people look for in recreational use of marijuana. The major part of the wellness cannabis market is in fact the CBD (Cannabidiol) market, which has developed in a strong, independent industry. A multitude of companies have launched brands and marketplaces offering CBD extracts in different formats (sublingual oils, vape liquids, pills, suppositories, gummies and teas to name a few). According to various estimates, the wellness cannabis market size, led by CBD product sales, could reach $22 billion in 2021. It is driven by the demand for products providing body and mind relaxation, which CBD provides.
The recreational cannabis market
This one is the most well-known and refers to the mainly illicit consumption of marijuana for the purpose of experiencing psychotropic or euphoric effects. This ‘market’ is supported by a strong agenda to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. The recreational use of marijuana is prohibited in most countries, since the ratification of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs in 1961. However, certain countries have decriminalized recreational use: Canada, Georgia, South Africa, Uruguay, 11 States and the District of Columbia in the United States and the Australian Capital Territory in Australia. Some countries have opted for a policy of limited enforcement, like in the Netherlands and Spain where the sale of marijuana is tolerated at licensed establishments.
Cannabis is more and more reported on and debated in the news. As the topics discussed are as various as regulatory, medical, financial, economical and lifestyle-related, it is important to understand the terms so as to appreciate what is at stake. At WholyMe, we bring you all the information about the plant’s therapeutic potential.