Cannabis is a plant that has been used throughout history to treat medical conditions.
It is used as an effective medical aid in the treatment of dozens of conditions including cancer, chronic pain, epilepsy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), HIV/AIDS and multiple sclerosis (MS). Research also supports the use of cannabis to reduce nausea and stimulate appetite. Cannabis also reduces pain and is considered a safer and less addictive alternative to opioids. Additional research is currently being conducted to explore other medical uses for cannabis. The medical benefits of cannabis come from chemicals called cannabinoids and terpenes, which interact with the central nervous and immune systems.
The most commonly known cannabinoid is THC (Delta 9-THC). It produces the therapeutic high or psychotropic effects. THC has also been shown to have other medical benefits including anti-inflammatory effects and appetite stimulation. CBD, another well-known cannabinoid, is used to treat convulsions, depression, inflammation and nausea, and has been shown to be an effective sedative, sleep aid and muscle relaxant. In addition to THC and CBD, more than eighty types of cannabinoids and hundreds of terpenes have been identified and have been shown to play an important medicinal role.
Medical cannabis is currently legal in 30 US states, with 15 additional states allowing limited use of CBD oil for treatment of specified conditions.
Sales of legalized medical and recreational cannabis in North America reached $6.7 billion in 2016 and are projected to grow to more than $22 billion by 2021*. These sales have generated almost $600 million in tax revenue **. If federally legalized, it is estimated that US market size would reach $50 billion annually and would encompass more than 35 million consumers.
The legal cannabis industry, one of the fastest growing in the world, is strongly supported by voters. 94 percent of Americans believe cannabis should be legal for medical purposes.
A Message to policymakers
Medical cannabis is a rapidly growing industry that will require a range of actions on the local, state and national levels to both maintain its current status and to grow.
PalliaTech has thus actively called upon policymakers to examine and address a number of key issues that would impact the industry’s potential for growth.
Expanded medical access
Medical cannabis is a proven treatment for a range of conditions from multiple sclerosis and cancer, to chronic pain and epilepsy. Patients rely on consistent, medical-grade cannabis to treat their symptoms. When faced with hurdles like distance from dispensaries or a lack of legal access in their state of residence, patients may turn to illegal options. In these situations, patients find themselves forced to use cannabis products that are not regulated or grown in a proper laboratory environment, posing a medical risk. Medical cannabis is currently legal in 30 US states. Additional expansion would help support patients and broaden their access to life-enhancing medical care.
Inconsistent banking laws have created multiple challenges for the industry. Adhering to each state’s unique laws requires a significant investment of resources and reliance on cash transactions. This creates a substantial burden for employees and businesses. To establish a more transparent financial environment, the sector needs coherent and consistent banking laws that are able to facilitate transactions on the part of medical cannabis companies. As a result, businesses, banks and governments alike would share a clear understanding of every transaction.
The industry is required to follow US Code 280E, a tax code that prevents cannabis companies from deducting ordinary business expenses. Medical cannabis companies currently face tax rates of 70-80 percent. This tax burden should be lifted or lightened so that cannabis companies are taxed at rates similar to those levied upon other legal businesses.