In recent years, the legal status of marijuana, CBD, and hemp have been common topics of discussion on the local, national, and international scale. As legalization in its many forms has spread in the United States, the conversation around cannabis and its effects has become more nuanced and commonplace. Recently, cannabinoid research company Verda Bio was granted Washington’s first cannabis research license.

The DNA of Cannabinoids

Verda Bio’s webpage states that they are intending to bring a more scientific approach to cannabinoid-based therapies. As far as cannabinoids go, familiarity with THC, the psychoactive component in cannabis, and familiarity with CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid with a host of purported therapeutic uses, have rapidly grown in recent years. However, there is relatively little scientific and even less public knowledge about the other cannabinoids. In fact, even finding a consensus on how many cannabinoids there are is difficult. Claims range from tens to hundreds. According to their website, Verda Bio hopes to use their research license to isolate these individual cannabinoids through genetic sequencing. They want to “be able to better understand the variation reported by patients and laboratory testing and begin to control for these differences to create a consistent medical product.” Because the specific types and effects of different cannabinoids aren’t well understood, it’s challenging to control for variations between strains of marijuana in clinical research. Clearly, defining these cannabinoids and creating processes to measure them would make research easier and more consistent.

The Research License

Washington State created the research license in 2016. Unlike a producer/processor license, it allows for breeding new strains without requiring that the plants themselves be sold or destroyed. This is important because researchers focusing on specific types of cannabinoids need to be able to breed strains of cannabis rich in those compounds. Also, the research license allows the holder to team up with research institutions, such as the University of Washington. Whether or not these partnerships form is unknown; many research institutions depend on federal funding, and cannabis remains prohibited under federal law.

The Future

Washington’s research license is a potentially powerful tool for a legal route to better understanding the medical and recreational uses of cannabis. With huge growth in the CBD market as well as a developing cultural understanding of the significance of different cannabinoids and terpenes, the market stands poised to reap the benefits of an enhanced understanding of cannabis. Due to Washington’s progressive stance on cannabis research, the state stands poised to become the hub for cannabis research. If you are looking to navigate the tricky process of obtaining a cannabis license, we recommend securing experienced legal counsel, such as that provided by Gleam Law, PLLC.