Medical cannabis use uncovers new possibilities for patients

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Medical cannabis legalization has been sweeping throughout countries worldwide as many look for alternatives to traditionally prescribed treatments and medications. Before the modern era, cannabis was a popular herbal medicinal treatment in Chinese, Indian, Egyptian, and Islamic cultures. However, under international regulations, cannabis was deemed illegal nearly a century ago because of the psychoactive properties stemming from the marijuana derivative of the plant. However, despite regulatory laws, many countries have since decided to move forward and legalize medical cannabis due to its therapeutic benefits. Countries such as Australia, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Mexico, the U.K, and parts of the U.S. have all adopted medicinal cannabis legislation. Predominantly, cannabis is used to treat a variety of medical ailments which includes cancer, chronic pain, depression, diabetes, glaucoma, migraines and epilepsy. Current modern treatments and surgical procedures to treat conditions such as cancer and epilepsy can be highly expensive for an average person. For instance, the treatment of epilepsy (VNS therapy) in the U.S. can cost upwards of USD 20,000, which includes implants and a surgical procedure. However, the costs of surgery and care can vary in different parts of the U.S. and can increase over time, according to the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago. Furthermore, patients will also need regular appointments with their neurologist to check the device, so while VNS therapy can be effective for patients suffering from epilepsy, the price can be quite hefty. Recently, however, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration legalized Epidiolex, the first cannabis-derived drug used to treat Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome common among children. As clinical trials and research continue to undergo, government regulators are becoming more inclined to evaluate the efficacy of cannabis. And as more U.S. states and countries continue to legalize cannabis for medical applications, the market is positioned to become a global phenomenon, as according to data compiled by IMARC Group, the global medical cannabis market was estimated at a value of USD 13.4 Billion in 2018. By 2024, the market is expected to exceed a value of USD 44.4 Billion while exhibiting a CAGR of 22.9% from 2019 to 2024. Trutrace Technologies Inc. (OTC: BKKSF) (CSE: TTT), Emerald Health Therapeutics Inc. (OTC: EMHTF) (TSX-V: EMH), MariMed Inc. (OTC: MRMD), InMed Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (OTC: IMLFF) (TSX: IN), Neptune Wellness Solutions Inc. (NASDAQ: NEPT) (TSX: NEPT)

While cannabis is having a large impact in many countries, the penetration of the market is still relatively low. In 2017, the U.S. had approximately 2.61 million medical cannabis patients among the total 216.11 million total residents in the states that legalized medical cannabis, according to the Marijuana Policy Project. The statistics showed that most states only had 3% or less of their total population using medical cannabis, perhaps due in large part to the taboos that surround the drug. Stereotypically speaking, most people associate cannabis with getting "high" and tend to overlook the benefits of the plant. In order to progress further, the FDA explicitly mentioned that it will require more large-scale positive clinical trials in order to officially approve cannabis for specific medical treatments. Nonetheless, concluded and ongoing trials have highlighted that patients have seen a significant reduction and noted that the use of cannabis has worked very well. "The debate over the therapeutic benefits of medical marijuana is ongoing. While a number of states in the U.S. have active medical marijuana laws (and a growing number allow recreational use), the federal government continues to classify it as a Schedule I controlled substance. Not only does that make it illegal to possess, it also limits medical studies into the potential benefits of cannabis," said Angela Morrow, Registered Nurse and certified hospice and palliative care nurse. "Medical marijuana remains controversial but it is gaining traction as a legitimate recommendation for a variety of symptoms. Even though many states have legalized the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes (and a few for recreational use), it's going to take more moves by policymakers and the U.S. government for it be accepted and sold nationwide. This will, however, likely require a much larger body of legitimate scientific research to prove or disprove the efficacy of medical marijuana, and potentially loosen the restrictions on its use."

Trutrace Technologies Inc. (OTC: BKKSF) (CSE: TTT) is also listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange under the ticker (CSE: TTT). Yesterday, at the second annual World Cannabis Congress, Shoppers Drug Mart announced, "a new initiative with software company, TruTrace Technologies to develop and deploy a blockchain-secured pilot program intended to increase transparency, interoperability and product identification within the medical cannabis industry (the "Pilot Program").

The Pilot Program will use TruTrace's StrainSecure™ technology as a central hub for identity management, asset tracking, validation, and product authentication. StrainSecure will also serve as a master registry for standardized testing, product verification, and quality assurance.

"We've gone to great lengths over the past six years to fully understand the challenges and opportunities that exist within the medical cannabis industry and taken steps to apply similar principles from traditional medicine to this new industry. The source of medical cannabis must be traceable and accountable for patients and practitioners to feel confident about it as a treatment,' said Ken Weisbrod, Vice President, Shoppers Drug Mart. 'When a patient takes medication, there is an expectation that it is standardized, and they can expect consistent clinical outcomes and results. Although that's not always a guarantee within the medical cannabis industry at the moment, we're hoping this new program can help change that."

"This is a significant milestone that brings our technology together with one of the most trusted brands in Canada,' said TruTrace Technologies CEO Robert Galarza. 'We believe it is a testament to our technology's ability to bring transparency and integrity to the cannabis industry and our shared mission. This initiative should help researchers and clinicians to match therapeutic outcomes to specific genetic and chemical profiles, and provide physicians, pharmacists, and patients with greater confidence in the products they prescribe or consume."

Phase 1 of the pilot program is expected to be completed by July 31, with full production and implementation targeted for late November 2019.

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