Visualizing The Science Behind The Medical Potential Of Cannabis

Attitudes are changing fast on cannabis, and investors are taking note...

With the birth of legal recreational markets in places like California and a growing appreciation for the medical applications of cannabinoids such as CBD, Visual Capitalist's Jeff Desjardins writes that the floodgates are open for companies to pursue new and groundbreaking opportunities in the sector.

Unlike other fields where medical research has been mainstream for many decades, the work behind cannabis – an incredibly complex plant – is only getting started.


Today’s infographic comes from InMed Pharmaceuticals and it explains the medical potential behind the 90+ cannabinoids that we have yet to fully understand.

It also details a scientific process known as biosynthesis, which helped revolutionize the production of insulin for diabetics. A process such as this may be a key in unlocking the medical potential of understudied cannabinoids.

Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist

The medical benefits of cannabis are many, and scientific research is being conducted to explore the application of the plant in several disease categories, including multiple sclerosis, seizures, glaucoma, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and migraines.

However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. To understand the full potential of the cannabis plant, you need to know what cannabinoids are, and how they work.


Like all mammals, the human body is loaded with natural cannabinoid receptors.

These receptors interact with cannabinoids, which occur naturally in the human body, but also in the cannabis plant.

Some cannabinoids you may know include THC and CBD – and they have a wide variety of applications. They also make up the majority of cannabinoids (by volume) that can be easily extracted from the plant.

However, there are actually 90+ other cannabinoids that have potential medical benefits as well, and they make up less than 0.1% of total biomass. Because they are so difficult to isolate, they remain understudied in medicinal science.


With only a tiny portion of the cannabis plant having medicinal value (the cannabinoids), a large degree of biomass must be harvested to extract even small amounts of medicine.

For example, 3 lbs (1.36 kg) of hig-CBD flowers may only yield 50 grams of pharmaceutical-grade compounds.

But this ratio is even more strenuous for the 90+ rare cannabinoids that make up less than 0.1% of the plant. With costs in the millions of dollars-per-gram range, it is extremely cost prohibitive to be researching these cannabinoids in any in-depth capacity.


The process of biosynthesis could be a clue to maximizing the potential of these understudied cannabinoids.

In fact, this innovation has already helped democratize access to insulin, which originally was an extremely rare and expensive compound. To get just eight ounces of insulin, over 5,000 pig pancreases had to be harvested and processed. With biosynthesis, that is no longer the case.

Biosynthesis is a process that can occur by genetically modifying an organism to produce a pharmaceutically bioactive compounds that it normally would not make. Biosynthesis could thus be used to produce rare cannabinoids that are biologically identical to those produced by the cannabis plant itself.

Here’s how it works:

1) A biosynthetic cluster is inserted into a DNA vector.


2) DNA is inserted into E. Coli bacteria, where it provides instructions to produce cannabinoid compound(s)


3) The process is conducted at a large scale, resulting in materials that can be further processed into purified cannabinoids


The world’s largest cannabis biotech company, GW Pharmaceuticals, has signed a contract with British Sugar to grow 18 hectares of cannabis for its CBD epilepsy drug, Epidiolex™.

Equivalent to approximately 23 football fields of greenhouse space, this represents a considerable amount of resources and investment needed to grow enough crops to treat 40,000 children with the disease.

If biosynthesis can produce similar quantities of cannabinoids from a much smaller space, it would be disruptive to the industry. Further, it may also make getting other understudied cannabinoids more economic – helping to possibly unleash the full medicinal potential of the cannabis plant.



Radical Marijuana Fri, 12/08/2017 - 21:54 Permalink

Yet another expression of the "technocopian" view. civilization which was completely crazy and corrupt to the core criminalized cannabis. The bogus "legalization" is taking place INSIDE that civilization. OF COURSE, hemp was always the single best plant on the planet for people for food, fiber, fun and medicine. However, BECAUSE that was the case, cannabis was criminalized for decade after decade, on the basis of huge legalized lies, backed by lots of legalized violence.

BaBaBouy BaBaBouy Sat, 12/09/2017 - 10:28 Permalink

IN LA, Its Cool ...Along with the sensuality circles, there are get-togethers for gamers who smoke pot, marijuana Christmas parties, classes where artists can puff and paint. There are studios where yogis smoke sensimilla with their shavasana and members’ only co-working spaces where entrepreneurs can enjoy a dab of hash while poring over data-flow diagrams and accounting receipts.“It all comes down to not feeling like a criminal, being seen as a criminal,” said Douglas Dracup, 31, whose Hitman Coffee Shop on South La Brea Avenue is one of these spaces. Parties, he said, have “set the stage for the industry to flourish.”Below, a recent tour of Los Angeles’s flourishing pot scene.High TeaIn a gated office building off Sunset Boulevard, tucked between a parking lot and two motels, about 25 people gathered one recent Saturday for “White Rabbit High Tea.” Jessica Cole Eriksen, 34, began hosting tea parties in April 2016 after working as a nanny in Ireland where brew was a daily ritual. “I’m rolling joints so, everyone, let’s get rolling,” said Ms. Eriksen, who brought a box filled with masks and hats for people to wear. “I’m so happy you are here on this lovely afternoon.”…

In reply to by BaBaBouy

Spanky wildbad Sat, 12/09/2017 - 19:01 Permalink

the paralells between the endocannabinoid system in humans and that of cannabis is nothing short of miraculous. -- wildbadSo miraculous it might lead you to think humans have been using cannabis for many milenia (or much longer) for its medicinal and beneficial effects... Imagine that.

In reply to by wildbad

Radical Marijuana Sofa King Fri, 12/08/2017 - 22:19 Permalink

I disagree that marijuana "keeps people docile."I like the metaphor that marijuana is Popeye's spinach for the mind.What happens when Popeye eats SpinachSome of the clearest medical benefits from marijuana are for treating post traumatic stress syndrome, because prolonged consumption of cannabis enables people to forget learned fears, that were burned into their minds by some previous traumatic experiences. The entire social pyramid system is based upon keeping most people in states of ignorance and fear. in order to facilitate exploiting them. One of the many reasons why the biggest bullies hate marijuana is that it enables some people to laugh at them, which something those bullies do not like.I have focused on pot politics for about half a Century, i.e., from 1967 to 2017.  The cannabis community has been a significant civil disobedience movement. The notion that marijuana makes people "docile and stupid" is propaganda. But nevertheless, I too "weep for the future," but NOT because of so-called "legalization," but rather. that most people continue to not be willing and able to understand the original criminalization. 

In reply to by Sofa King

Deathrips Radical Marijuana Sat, 12/09/2017 - 02:50 Permalink

Radical.As always your insight creates thought. Why are plants sum up correctly on the negative influences to big pharma, textile, oil and government to criminalize a plant.My story in cannabis is as follows. Grew my first plant in 1992 in California. Lobbied for decriminalization in northern California against gray davis in 1995. We literally emailed, faxed and called his office with 1000s for months to get prop 215 in the ballot. It was my first endeavor into grass roots politics. Later the movement was co-opted to become legalization which compromised intentionally to regulation/control. For clarificatoin decriminalization means its a plant. Legalization means its regulated by law. I was there personally to see the tweakers with lots of money and Cannabis brought into compromise the decriminalization movement. It was at this time in far northern california parties with Jack Herer and other visionist espoused in discussion of possible change within the system in large. I saw a 1/4 lb joint rolled in papers bigger than the new york times paper circulated. Dont do it..too much resin. Partook in a financial industry from 2000-2004 when i looked into technology to create better repeatability in  photo chemistry. Fast forward to today. Albeit not our technology companies primary focus we do interact with the cannabis industry on a high level. This may come as no surprise that I have no problem with cannabis and am mainly a late evening user. I feel more centered and balanced when i sleep. I work with some of the greatest growers in the cannabis industry.It is a magical space of physics botany and chemistry which i work. Our first unoptimized grow in cannabis yielded the highest TCH ever grown according to High Times. Personally I did not care for the strain. TO each their own.  Being afraid of a plant is as logical as being against nudism. WE are born naked. We have a  endocanabaniod system for a reason. Tremendous advances are in progress in this space. As always enjoy your intellect. RIPS

In reply to by Radical Marijuana

Radical Marijuana Deathrips Sat, 12/09/2017 - 13:37 Permalink

An interesting reply based on your experience, which I agree with:

"... decriminalization means its a plant. Legalization means its regulated by law.  I was there personally to see the tweakers with lots of money and Cannabis brought into compromise the decriminalization movement."

"Legalization" in Canada implements ridiculously restrictive regulations.An underlying issue with the technocopian article above is the patents. Intellectual property are claims backed by coercions, which effectively privatize the benefits, which amounts to renewed forms of class warfare. "Legalization" does NOT end the class warfare, rather,"legalization" transforms into more pernicious forms.

In reply to by Deathrips

Sofa King Radical Marijuana Fri, 12/08/2017 - 22:30 Permalink

Sorry to upset all the pot-heads but years of observing burners have shaped my opinions. Find me one person that is motivated to produce when they're stoned and I'll retract my docile comment but you can't so let's move on.  I have a chess game to play with a moron that wants to bet me a bitcoin.  Shit, I'll hand it over to him if his stoned ass can stop giggling long enough to set up the board properly...Auf Wiedersehen, motherfuckers.

In reply to by Radical Marijuana

ljag Sofa King Sat, 12/09/2017 - 08:51 Permalink

You obviously have never consumed the oil that myself and many other boomers have been using for years.

I can hardly believe I suffered as long as I did.....albeit in a "green haze". Nevertheless , no more crohns, no more sleepless nights and no more lying around the house.

Check my previous posts....been hip to this for a while. Don't need no stinking doctors. I'm 71 but I'll bet everyone on this board that BTC I can pass for 55. Shit is amazing

In reply to by Sofa King

Bendromeda Strain ljag Sat, 12/09/2017 - 11:09 Permalink

If you are speaking of CBD I am intrigued. Tell me more, I would appreciate some first hand information on it. Are there no psychoactive properties with it? Please don't bullshit me, as I have smoked pretty much everything under the sun available in the 70s & 80s, including honey oils and every color of hash. I'm the idiot who ate a gram of blond Leb (yuck) thinking it wouldn't make my eyes red. I don't want to get baked for my arthritis, I have the ability to do that already.To those pushing full legalization, fine, whatever, but don't try and tell me how wonderful and beneficient THC is. I see the lies being thrown about for what they are. You want what you want and will say anything to get it. Wasting diseases, chemo, etc. I don't have a problem, but MM cards are being thrown around here like pill mill docs used to prescribe Vics. So partial legalization is a sham, that is true. For every true believer who talks about how they are performance enhanced (a stupid argument to have over long distances between strangers), they are lying through their teeth if they say they don't also know someone who is retarded by the effects of THC.I know too many people whose lives have not been "enhanced" by being stoners. Others also have first hand experience and can smell the guano being spread about. 

In reply to by ljag

ljag Bendromeda Strain Sat, 12/09/2017 - 19:18 Permalink

Did you even read the article? .....and yet you're intrigued by CBD? The one or two you heard of? Read up on which kind of weed has the best healing properties....and why. Then look closely at the delivery system (which CBD fails miserably...esp. when dealing with hospice folks). Yeah, you cop a buzz but you soon build a tolerance which allows you to consume the truly therapeutic dosage...~gr. per day (which may sound extreme but then focus on the word....hospice). GL.

In reply to by Bendromeda Strain

PhysicalRealm Sofa King Sat, 12/09/2017 - 14:37 Permalink

Sofa King said, "Find me one person that is motivated to produce when they're stoned and I'll retract my docile comment but you can't..."

WRONG. Go somewhere it's been legalized and try Blue Dream. In a half hour or so after imbibing you'll be pain-free, motivated, and getting some work done. Magnificent stuff.

In reply to by Sofa King

Radical Marijuana Oliver Klozoff Sat, 12/09/2017 - 21:59 Permalink

Perhaps what happens is like in the Crumb comics:One recognizes that they are really out to get you!I agree that some people find that consuming cannabis increases their paranoid, but I attribute that to increased consciousness of what is really happening!In the Canadian context, one of the great ironies has been that the Canadian participation in the invasion of Afghanistan (on the basis of the inside job, false flag attacks on September 11, 2001), has spiraled around to the Canadian government paying increasingly large amounts of money to subsidize medical marijuana to treat the post traumatic stress symdromes of Canadian soldiers that participated in that Afgan war:troops battle 10-ft Afghan marijuanaSome of the extreme symbolic manifestations of that, within the context of Canadian "legalization" story, has been seen in these kinds of developments: head of RCMP drug squad now leads national marijuana business COPS ALL ABOUT THE MONEYToronto Star, 15 Nov 2017If St. Paul, one of the most virulent and effective enemies of early Christians could pull off the greatest about face in history and become the religion's most prolific proponent, then who am I to argue with former Toronto police chief Julian Fantino as a shill for the marijuana industry. Fantino, the macho, no-nonsense, law-and-order tough guy from Vaughan stood at a podium in his city Tuesday singing the virtues of - pot. Yes, he used to bust men and women, boys and girls - locked them up for smoking a joint or a spliff - ignoring the haze of vibe-inducing smoke and the good vibes of the "natural mystic flowing in the air," riding the Rasta rhythms of Bob Marley or the raw rhetoric of Peter Tosh's Legalize it. That was then. But Fantino did not mutate by himself; he has disciples. Beside him was the former second in command of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Raf Souccar, who admitted busting "numerous ... dozens" of people for marijuana over his 34 years with the Mounties. And in case you didn't get the odd, mind-bending irony of these former cops turned drug promoters, Fantino spelled it out as he fronted for Aleafia, a self-styled "Canada's first 'patient-centric' cannabis-based health network" that launched its flagship clinic in Vaughan Tuesday. "Our leadership team is comprised of Canada's best thought leaders in law enforcement, government, research and innovation, which singularly positions Aleafia for longterm growth," Fantino told reporters. In other words, we are the new, respectable mob. We are going to kick butt and rake in the profits in this new, legal enterprise that has been scrubbed clean and made respectable. Yeah, yeah, we were wrong about this. Dope is actually a good alternative to opioids, which are killing our young people by the thousands across the land. We've seen the light - not to mention the cash. Fantio is Aleafia's executive chairman. Souccar is president and CEO. Toronto's former fire chief William Stewart is a director. Former MP and minister of state Dr. Gary Goodyear is COO and vice-president of research. Missing was ex-Toronto police chief Bill Blair - but he is busy working this from the inside as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's chief lieutenant, directed to deliver the legislation that will de-criminalize marijuana in Canada. One wonders how many young men are in prison - introduced to the penal system as youths and never got out of that rut because they were busted for the horrible weed now turned wonder drug. "I was too busy enforcing the law, I never had the opportunity to interact with the users," Souccar offered, in comparison to his education as a member of Trudeau's Marijuana Legalization Task Force. No apologies, Fantino said Tuesday. He was upholding the law. His "come to Jesus moment" - though the Jesus crowd would consider it a "come to Satan moment" - was when he was veteran affairs minister, Fantino said. He met too many veterans suffering from post traumatic sleep deprivation and chronic ailments who found relief from cannabis ( they rarely say marijuana, or ganja; cannabis is more respectable ). "We are not in the marijuana business; we are in the health delivery system," Fantino said, and, of course, medical marijuana has been legal for 20 years ( though greatly restricted ). I have no beef with former cops and arbiters of our morality and lawmakers showing up years later promoting what was once considered forbidden. Happens all the time. I don't drink or smoke or do a whole bunch of illicit stuff that are among the menu of fun times for mayors and MPs and, of course, cops and city councillors. But it does get astonishing at times. The war on drugs has done so much damage to the people and communities on the street level of the trade that it galls to see the facilitators of this fake war now saying, "Oops, we were wrong. No harm, no foul. Dope is actually a good alternative" to other drugs society allows. Or, as Fantino said Tuesday,"In days gone by we had a certain attitude and perception of things."But you campaigned against legalization of marijuana when you ran for parliament? He was asked. "I support the legalization, with conditions. We hope and trust the concerns will be addressed, and away we go." Away we go? It's never about the drug, or the banned substance, is it? Cause once we can sanitize it, legislate it, tax it, package it, and deal it then we suddenly gloss over the impacts. Alcohol ruins families. So much so we have a liquor control board. Casinos are a curse and a blight. Tobacco? Don't start. Opioids are legal, though more controlled than dope, and dope more controlled than alcohol and alcohol ... till we find a way to cut out the bootlegger, the gang, organized crime ... by becoming the organized government cartel. It's not about the effect and impact on kids, youth, families, society. It's about the money. Always. And every time the government gets involved, backed by the business cartel, product use and exposure and abuse does not diminish. It increases. Your daughter or son no longer has to have a second thought about the legality and advisability of dope. And we'll spend millions warning about safe and responsible use and deliver the education in 3D - -"Don't dope and drive."But anytime we see our top cops at the front of the line promoting what they once arrested for, the hypocrisy stinks to high heaven.[sidebar]WHEN the Federal Government of the USA follows that pattern above, one can expect similar expressions of immaculate hypocrycies from professional liars. In the context of the portayal of biosynthesis above, what one can most reasonably expect is the continued deliberate ignorance of issues surrounding human ecology."It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society."-- Jiddu Krishna Murti"They are normal not in what may be called the absolute sense of the word; they are normal only in relation to a profoundly abnormal society. Their perfect adjustment to that abnormal society is a measure of their mental sickness."-- Aldous HuxleyThe Bizarro World does not have merely one mirror, in which things are simply reversed in the way that they appear to be backward. Rather, there are multiple mirrors, and even mirrors that are hinged, or unhinged, in ways that their reflections can reflect back on each other, in almost infinitely repeating reversals, whereby what is backwards may be flipped around and around, again and again ... To apply that to the notions regarding enforcing frauds, on a superficial level that appears to violate the laws of nature, that nothing can be made out of nothing, and nothing can be sent to nothing, but rather, there can only be the transformation of energy, which continues to exist, and have its overall existence conserved. Making "money" out of nothing appears to superficially be a violation of the most basic law of nature, the principle of the conservation of energy, which has the special case of the conservation of matter.However, on a deeper level, since those frauds are enforced, those frauds to not violate the laws of nature, after one includes the energy that enforces frauds into the superficial appearance of the fraudulence of creating "money" out of nothing. Similarly, on relatively superficial and/or deeper levels of analysis, the lies are different at every level. The vast majority of people are not aware of how the monetary and taxation systems really work through public governments enforcing frauds by private banks. The public schools and mass media massively lie by omission regarding those social facts. Therefore, most people are not conscious of how the MAD Money As Debt systems are based upon the enforcement of frauds, paradoxically because the persistent enforcement of those frauds has become such a perpetual war against their consciousness that they have been mostly conditioned to not want to understand what is really happening. and Why Marijuana Research is Biased toward Negative Effect

In reply to by Oliver Klozoff

jin187 Caloot Sat, 12/09/2017 - 04:22 Permalink

I think any drug which helps the weak and stupid kill themselves should not only be legal, but free. We should even have PSA's, and suicide aid picture pamphlets, with drawings of people peacefully sleeping, with a smile on their face, never having to hurt, feel anxiety, or flee to a safe space ever again.

In reply to by Caloot

third string plug Radical Marijuana Sat, 12/09/2017 - 07:37 Permalink

With so little research done no one has a clue what the benefits really are.  There are no finished cross over trials, one cohort study (showed no difference for pregnant women in Jamaica) and certainly no double blind experiments.  Where is the AJCN on this?  Oh wait.  Its still a criminal act to work with the product in NJ and MI and every other state that actually has science companies.  (see above)We're coming along in California tho!  You should see the building code requirements for laboratory suites.  Despite about 1700 pages of regulations, turns out it is possible, and at least three groups are actively working towards legal science in Mendocino.  Should be in Humboldt except there is no infrastrure for miles.  It will happen eventually because neither you nor I have any idea what molecules are coming out of them trees.

In reply to by Radical Marijuana

ZeppelinJack Radical Marijuana Sat, 12/09/2017 - 10:28 Permalink

Amen.  And thank you for all your effort over the decades - god speed.Anyone who's familiar with cannabis and its affects knows what total bullshit that 'docile and stupid' steroetype is.  But the real irony is that those same people who spew that horseshit will, at their next breath, consume alcohol, a toxic and massively harmful compound, killing the equivalent of the holocaust - every year, and happily toat its virtues without a second thought to the immeasurably stupidity of it, and its affects.Alcohol really is the opium for the masses.

In reply to by Radical Marijuana

Bendromeda Strain ZeppelinJack Sat, 12/09/2017 - 11:07 Permalink

"Amen" "god speed"What a tool. Fighting the good fight are we?Anyone who's familiar with cannabis and its affects knows what total bullshit that 'docile and stupid' steroetype is. Wrong.What you say about alcohol is funny, because putting aside shift workers, someone who drinks during the day is universally recognized to likely have a problem. Getting baked whenever, wherever is never a problem to the true believer. The EVANGELISTS.

In reply to by ZeppelinJack

Radical Marijuana ZeppelinJack Sat, 12/09/2017 - 22:00 Permalink

Beer was a very important component of the original Neolithic Civilizations, both through the Egyptian and Mesopotamian phases. Of course, the sociopolitical control systems which now dominate Globalized Neolithic Civilization can be traced back to those roots. ENFORCED FRAUDS run throughout aspects of prohibition, in ways which reinforce the most important ways that the powers of public governments ENFORCED FRAUDS by private banks.FOLLOW THE MONEY TO ITS SOURCE.The vicious spirals of the funding of the political processes enabled the maximum leverage, which allowed tiny minorities to dominate vast majorities. Generation after generation, huge legalized lies were backed up with lots of legalized violence, resulting in many people believing in those lies, which are as dishonest as possible, in proportion to how important are those issues being lied about.

In reply to by ZeppelinJack