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A growing list of different dosing products could change the way some medical and recreational users consume their cannabis.
“When you talk about medical cannabis, everybody thinks about Cheech and Chong and the bongs and combustible formats,” says Thomas Folan, a medical doctor and founder of SolaceMD, an online medical cannabis consultation platform. “But those of us putting our MD behind this business wouldn’t be doing so if that was where it was going.”
Instead, Canadians will soon be able to dose up on cannabinoids like THC or CBD, touted to have wide variety of therapeutic benefits, with products as discrete as a thin strip that dissolves in your mouth.
“We’re very excited to be able to provide a smoke-free solution,” says Mark Upsdell, CEO of Rapid Dose Therapeutics.
The biotechnology company has developed the QuickStrip to deliver THC or CBD into the bloodstream from inside the cheek or under the tongue.
After Upsdell’s experience with an ill family member who couldn’t swallow pills, he says, “I looked at different ways to take medication. We looked at a bunch of things around the world but there was nothing that really made sense.”
Quickstrips dissolve in a matter of seconds and are also used to administer vitamins and supplements as an alternative to injections or pills.
“We can take just about anything out of your medicine cabinet and put it in a strip,” says Upsdell. QuickStrips can also work much faster and more efficiently because they bypass the digestive system and produce an effect more comparable to smoking or vaping — but without the obnoxious cloud.
“You can see the creativity that’s gone into this industry,” says Christine Allen, chief scientific officer at Avicanna and professor at the University of Toronto’s Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy.
Allen is working to understand the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD, and her lab has been developing topical creams that could be used to treat acne, eczema or, in the case of one test group, the rare genetic condition epidermolysis bullosa, which causes the skin to easily blister.
The work is painstaking, however, because Allen is gathering detailed scientific evidence about efficacy. “It’s like the tortoise and the hare. We are like the tortoise. But there are so many companies moving really quickly. I mean it’s not exciting to do stability studies for a cream, but you’ve got to do it if you want a good product,” says Allen.
CBD needs to be formulated properly to ensure it has a stable shelf life, which would be essential to accurate dosing, for example.
Although Allen’s focus is on medical applications, she argues that what is good for medical cannabis is good for recreational cannabis. “If there are unsafe products, people will start to walk away from them, people will be apprehensive about cannabis,” says Allen.
The federal government has set a deadline of October 2019 to legalize edible cannabis, concentrates and lotions in Canada, and the industry appears to be moving at a hare’s pace.
“Every time I turn around there’s a new product somebody has thought of,” Allen says. “I feel like there’s a lot of green space. We can chart our own course,” says Allen.
While lotions and creams can benefit the skin or treat dermatological conditions, a transdermal patch uses special additives to help permeate the skin and carry the active compounds of cannabis to blood vessels for a long-lasting effect.
Aphria has also signed an agreement with Upsdell’s Rapid Dose Therapeutics to use its technology to create and distribute CBD-only QuickStrips, starting in Germany this year.
These innovative formats could make cannabis products more palatable to a new demographic of users who want or need to know the precise dosage they are consuming.
As research grows, expect more companies to develop pharmaceutical dosing products to tailor cannabis use. “That’s where the future lies,” says Folan.
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Avicanna is set to be an industry leader in the development, manufacturing and commercialization of plant-derived cannabinoid-bassed products. Click here to visit their corporate website!
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