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Medical Marijuana Spreading Globally: Cancer Treatment to Drive Growth

The medical marijuana business is growing across the globe, according to a report by Grand View Research, Inc. a San Francisco-based market research and consulting company.

In the January, 2017, report, “Medical Marijuana Market Analysis by Application and Segment Forecasts”, the global medical marijuana market size was valued at $11.4 billion in 2015 and is projected to grow with an annual growth rate of 17.1 percent through 2025.

Since the medical use of cannabis is not yet approved in the majority of Asian and Latin American economies, the regional scope of the report was limited to North America, Europe and Israel.

North America held a majority of the share of nearly 49 percent in 2015. Canada currently has 52 licensed marijuana producers. Mexico just legalized medical marijuana in June, 2017.

Australia legalized medical marijuana in February, 2016, and is now allowing the import and storage of cannabis until domestic production catches up to demand in the country.

The report also tracked medical marijuana market growth in Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, Croatia, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Finland, Portugal, France and Romania.

The market is growing because of rising awareness of its use in various medical applications, especially in areas like pain management and appetite enhancement.

The chronic pain segment alone represented 39.6 percent of the global revenue share in 2015, according to the report. The growing number of clinical trials using marijuana to treat neuropathic and chronic pain is one of the key indicators of medical marijuana growth, which implies a rising use of cannabis in pain management over the coming years.

Cancer will be the fastest growing cannabis application segment with an annual growth of 18.2 percent expected through 2025. The rapidly growing number of states, districts, and territories enacting laws to legalize the drug is also driving the demand for cancer treatment.

Various clinical trials have shown that marijuana has displayed cancer cell destroying capabilities, the report found.

But for now, there’s only a few glimmers of success in using cannabis to treat cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the only published trial of any use of cannabinoid in patients with cancer is a single, small study about injecting cannabis into the tumor of patients with recurrent  glioblastoma multiforme, a type of aggressive brain cancer.

In a trial conducted in Israel, oral cannabidiol (CBD) was investigated as a way to treat recurrent tumors. The study was projected to be completed in 2015, but no results have been published.

An increasing number of trials are evaluating a nose spray of cannabis plant extract with fixed concentrations of cannabinoid components, working with national drug regulatory agencies in Canada and in some European countries.

The NCI reported that there have been ten clinical trials on the use of inhaled cannabis in cancer patients, but there was insufficient data to provide an overall level of assessment.

The American Cancer Society has not taken a position on the use of cannabis for medical treatment, awaiting more scientific research on the potential detrimental health benefits of smoking it. But they do admit that there is a valid number of small studies demonstrating how smoked cannabis can be helpful in treating nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy.

Cannabis is still not approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) in the U.S. for the treatment of cancer, which is a key restraining factor for the growth of this application segment, according to the Grand View Research report.

The growing prevalence of cancer and increasing interest amongst researchers regarding the use of medical marijuana in cancer treatment are some of the factors responsible for driving the medical cannabis market over the coming years. And that is driving business interests.

According to findings in the report, some of the major players operating in this market are Cara Therapeutics Inc.; Cannabis Sativa, Inc.; CannaGrow Holdings, Inc.; United Cannabis Corporation; Growblox Sciences, Inc.; GreenGro Technologies, Inc.; GW Pharmaceuticals plc; International Consolidated Companies, Inc.; and Lexaria Corp.

The report also found that the growing number of mergers and acquisitions in the medical cannabis industry is one of the key attributes that is expected to boost the market over the coming few years, citing some of the recent M&A activities such as Nexus Corporation being acquired by Gibraltar Industries, and Cannabase entering into a partnership with BioTrackTHC.

David Hodes

David Hodes

David Hodes is based in the greater Washington DC metropolitan area. He is the former editor of seven different business magazines, and has contributed feature articles to several business/lifestyle publications and national cannabis magazines. Hodes is also a former field producer for CBS News, NBC, NFL Network, ESPN and other media outlets; worked as a news promotions producer for two network affiliates; and was the morning news editor for a third network affiliate.

He is member of the National Press Club, and deputy booking agent for the National Press Club Headliners Committee.

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