It was an action-packed year for cannabis, and 2019 is shaping up to be even livelier.
Most of the excitement was driven by British drugmaker GW Pharmaceuticals, whose marijuana-based drug Epidiolex won regulators’ approval over the summer. That caught the eyes of analysts at JPMorgan, who launched coverage of GW Pharma the day after New Year’s. The bank thinks Epidiolex could surpass $1 billion in yearly sales by 2023.
Epidiolex’s key ingredient is CBD, the second main compound in cannabis after THC. But unlike THC, CBD does not get users high. Instead, the compound is believed to be responsible for many of marijuana’s therapeutic qualities, from pain relief to helping to stop epileptic seizures.
Importantly, CBD can be sourced not only from marijuana plants but also from hemp. So when the latest Farm Bill made hemp legal, entrepreneurs and manufacturers braced themselves for a hemp-derived CBD boom.
Also, shortly after Epidiolex’s approval, GW Pharma CEO Justin Gover told us he has his sites on getting another marijuana-based drug called Sativex approved in the US next. That drug contains THC as well as CBD and would be used to treat pain and multiple sclerosis.