Australia could be the lead destination for cannabinoid research aimed at developing novel drugs to target specific diseases.
Cannabis has been progressively decriminalised around the world since the early 2000s, starting with Canada granting legal access for medical purposes in 2001 and several other countries following suit.
It has taken Australia 15 years to catch on with the government giving medicinal cannabis the ‘green light’ in 2016. Just two months ago, the Australian Capital Territory also became the first region in the country to legalise recreational use of the drug.
While it seems like the world has had a fair bit of time to evaluate the medical efficacy of cannabis, research is still somewhat wrapped in red tape.
But medical cannabis industry expert Dr Sud Agarwal believes Australia could be the best place to develop the next generation of cannabinoids.
Speaking with Small Caps, he explained how novel drug development can improve on the drawbacks of cannabis in its current form and why it is the future of medicine.
Dr Agarwal is the co-founder and chief executive officer of Australian medicinal cannabis distribution and cannabinoid research company Cannvalate.
The shortcomings of generic cannabis
Despite the many recognised benefits of medical cannabis, a big weakness is the fact that most prescriptions currently come in a generic form.
This generic drug is not tested for standardised product stability or shelf life, nor is it scientifically validated for a specific therapeutic claim.
“For every other pharmaceutical drug in Australia and the western world, we prescribe a specific dose of a specific drug, which hits a known target to cause effects on a disease that we’re trying to improve, be it cure or manage,” Dr Agarwal said.
With cannabis, a patient will just keep taking it until they get a desired effect.
“No one knows where the target is and what systems it’s affecting because it’s probably affecting multiple systems.”
Dr Agarwal also pointed out that generic cannabis is not tested for dose-response relationships so an exact dosage can be prescribed for a particular patient for a specific disease.
In addition, one drop of cannabis oil from a bottle may be different to another drop in the same bottle, since the majority of the bottle contents are made up of coconut or olive oil with some ground cannabis suspended in it.
“It’s never been measured to be standardised so we know every drop can