The booming cannabidiol (CBD) industry is expanding at a rapid rate and shows no signs of slowing down. The legal cannabis industry also continues to make new strides, as cannabis advocates, reform groups, lobbyists, and lawyers remain active in legislative efforts. As time progresses, more states are adapting and adjusting their respective policies. Cannabis and hemp products, including those which contain hemp-derived CBD, are becoming less taboo and these products are now more legally accessible than ever before.
Although CBD currently seems to be the most popular cannabinoid, there are approximately 120 other cannabinoids present in the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa L., that have tremendous potential. Below, we take a closer look at four other notable cannabinoids in the hemp plant and the effects they might have on the legal cannabis industry.
Cannabigerol (CBG) is a non-psychotropic cannabinoid found in Cannabis sativa L. and is a precursor for three primary branches of cannabinoid development. Enzymes inside cannabis plants turn CBG into either tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) or cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), which can then be decarboxylated to create tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or CBD. Due to the widespread popularity of THC, CBG has not been commonly maximized in cannabis plants until very recently. Breeders are now experimenting with genetics and cross-breeding to yield higher quantities of CBG, and with proper synthesis, producers can transform it into a wide range of other cannabinoids. The knowledge surrounding the efficacy of CBG is currently limited, though many studies show promising effects on human health. To date, CBG demonstrates impressive antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and neuroprotective properties. Expect to see CBG emerge in consumer markets as the legal cannabis industry continues to evolve.
The effects of decarboxylated cannabinoids have been thoroughly studied and remain the foundations of the cannabis and CBD industries. However, THCA, the acid form of THC before applying heat, may have therapeutic uses in and of itself. From a consumer perspective, THCA may be a more natural compound that could offer similar benefits to THC but with a minimally processed approach. Additionally, large doses of THCA can be taken without concerns of significant psychoactive effects, unlike its decarboxylated product, THC. Research into the potential efficacy of THCA shows powerful anti-inflammatory actions and neuroprotective properties. While THCA is already popular in certain medical communities, this cannabinoid may leave a notable impression on the legal cannabis marketplace in the near future.
Cannabinol (CBN) is a cannabinoid extracted from Cannabis sativa L. that forms as a result of the degradation of THCA due to air and UV light exposure. CBN was actually the first cannabinoid isolated from cannabis plants in 1896, but its full effects and capabilities are still being researched. This cannabinoid shows preferential affinity for CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system, typically found on immune cells. CBN has gained a reputation as a sleep-inducing compound, as it is a more prevalent by-product in aged cannabis. Additionally, some studies indicate that CBN may offer improved cell function, anti-spasticity, and anti-inflammatory properties on its own, but especially when combined with CBD. If and when it comes to market, CBN will most likely achieve popularity as a sleep aid and will be pursued for its sedating and relaxing properties.
Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) is a cannabinoid that has been recognized since 1970 but only recently has it attracted attention. THCV is currently being studied for its effects on the activity of CB1 receptors, with hypotheses indicating therapeutic potential that mitigates symptoms of certain diseases, such as schizophrenia. Other studies conducted on rodents have shown that by suppressing CB1 activity, THCV has contributed to hypophagia; the reduction in food intake and, thus, body weight, which has given it some recognition as a “diet cannabinoid.” Through these studies, THCV also showed improved glucose tolerance, which indicates a potentially promising diabetes aid or treatment. Additional clinical studies of THCV as an agonist of CB1 receptors are needed, but the research continues to attract interest from the cannabis industry.
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