Cannabis is rapidly becoming recognized for its medical benefits rather than the negative social stigma it is traditionally associated with. People have been consuming its dried leaves, seed oil, and other parts of the cannabis plant for recreational and medicinal purposes for a long time. A major factor fueling the market growth is the rising demand for medical marijuana in markets where cannabis consumption is legal.
In 2020, the global cannabis industry was valued at over USD 9 billion and projected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of more than 26 percent until 2028. In Southeast Asia, although there are substantial restrictions on the use of cannabis, there is increasing research on its usage in the medical fraternity.
The cannabis plant contains more than 100 chemical compounds or cannabinoids including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). The effects vary significantly depending on the form consumed, which includes:
In the area of medicine, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine pointed to evidence that cannabis and cannabinoids can help manage:
For example, in 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Epidiolex, a medication derived from cannabis to treat two rare and severe types of epilepsy that do not respond well to other treatments. Epidiolex is a purified form of CBD that does not contain THC.
To date, three drugs that contain synthetic substances with a structure similar to that of THC have received FDA approval for the treatment of anorexia: Marinol, Syndros, and Cesamet.
While each chemical compound in cannabis has a different effect on the body, THC and CBD are the main chemicals used in medicine. THC produces the "high" people experience when they consume cannabis or eat foods containing it.
The effects experienced by cannabis users vary and significantly depend on the dose, method of administration, prior experience, any concurrent drug use, personal expectations, mood state, and the social environment in which the drug is used.
People who use large quantities of cannabis may become sedated or disoriented and may experience toxic psychosis; they may not know who they are, where they are, or what time it is. High doses may also cause fluctuating emotions, fragmentary thoughts, paranoia, panic attacks, hallucinations, and feelings of unreality.
Researchers continue to study whether medical cannabis can help treat a range of medical conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, cancer, diseases affecting the immune system, eating disorders, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder, and multiple sclerosis.
Findings show that some compounds in cannabis may have anti-cancer properties, and this has resulted in scientists synthesizing new compounds based on natural cannabinoids. These compounds may be capable of having a much stronger anti-cancer effect.
Although there is increasing understanding of its medical benefits, existing manufacturing inefficiencies and poor quality control by manufacturers are hindering production. Many products do not meet the required regulatory and content claims.
With improved production measures and quality checks in place, the pharmaceutical sector is poised to offer more consistent CBD products. There are strict GMP manufacturing standards in place for pharmaceutical companies, contract suppliers, and manufacturing organizations to produce higher quality products.
As shared in our earlier article on how to overcome the challenges of hemp and food safety with better testing, it is important to conduct comprehensive testing and analysis of trace constituents like THC and CBD to ensure the safety, efficacy, and quality of cannabis-based products.
At DKSH, we help businesses to understand the different testing methods and regulatory demands for each market they are going into. We provide technologies and analysis tools which enable rapid, robust, and confident decision-making at all stages of the development workflow.
Ruethaitip Tiratrakulvichaya has been with DKSH in Thailand since 2009. As the Application Manager for the Malvern product range, she is responsible for technical and application support across Southeast Asia.
With a background in food science and agroindustry, she is experienced in delivering training to both internal colleagues and external customers on how to operate and obtain the best data.
Ruethaitip has extensive working knowledge in material characterization techniques including laser diffraction, dynamic light scattering, micro-calorimetry, size exclusion chromatography, and morphological property.