Cannabis has some undeniable medical benefits, to the point that there are several approved medical drugs that are derived from some of the chemical compounds (cannabinoids) in cannabis, including THC and CBD. Among them is GW Pharmaceuticals PLC- ADR (NASDAQ:GWPH)‘s Sativex, which is approved in several countries for the treatment of pain, as well as AbbVie Inc (NYSE:ABBV)‘s Marinol, which has been approved in the U.S and Canada for the treatment of nausea and vomiting, as well as for appetite stimulation in AIDS patients. Insys Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:INSY) also received FDA approval last summer for Syndros, a liquid form of dronabinol (Marinol).
Despite that, the debate rages unabated as to whether marijuana is safe and worthy of full-scale legalization, despite arguably more harmful substances like tobacco and alcohol already being legal. Proponents of marijuana will tell you that it’s a great pain reliever, supplanting the need for prescription pills that can be even more addictive and dangerous than weed, given that they are now one of the leading causes of preventable death in the U.S, while death resulting from marijuana use is almost non-existent. Some of the more well informed ones might also tell you that it helps regulate their insulin levels and helps them sleep better.
Detractors will tell you that marijuana could be a gateway drug, that it can impair learning, create apathetic people with little motivation to do anything, and damage lungs. They’ll also downplay many of the purported benefits, suggesting that they’re either being trumped up by corporate interests, or that the same benefits could be achieved from other substances which have less harmful risks than marijuana. The truth of course probably lies somewhere in the middle, as it usually does.
In this article, we’ll take a look at what some of the publicly-traded marijuana companies have to say about marijuana and what they think (and not just think, but what their studies have shown) that it can do for people. Those companies include AbbVie Inc (NYSE:ABBV), Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc (NYSE:VRX), 22nd Century Group Inc (NYSEMKT:XXII), Arena Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ARNA), Insys Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:INSY), GW Pharmaceuticals PLC- ADR (NASDAQ:GWPH), and Cara Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:CARA).
It should be noted that some of these companies are taking a risk by stepping into the marijuana distribution realm. While the drug has been approved for medical use in 28 states and DC, and for recreational use in 8 states (though some of those laws don’t go into effect until January 1, 2018), it is still illegal according to the Federal government and could be subject to lifetime imprisonment and fines of up to $50 million. So while there are undeniable growth prospects for the industry, which could hit $30 billion annually by 2020, there is also the Federal elephant in the room, which adds a layer of risk to any company dealing in marijuana on the recreational side of the ledger. Therefore, it’s safe to say that they have a firm belief in what they’re doing and see themselves as providing a valuable service to people.
Now then, let’s see what the companies that are at the forefront of the marijuana industry have to say about the plant and its medical benefits.