CannaMed: Medical Marijuana Incorporated's Latin American Domino Effect

Story by Patrick L. Myers

     Cannabis has contributed largely to the medicinal industry and, although it remains a Schedule I substance, (among such substances as heroin and LSD), companies are finding ways to profit from it. One such company, Medical Marijuana Incorporated (MMI), has brought it as far as having people in Latin America petition their government to start importing the 100% legal product. This action led to a coining of the term for a movement that those atMMI call the Latin America Domino Effect.
     MMI is not only shifting laws in foreign countries, but driving possible medical advances aimed at aiding those who have been afflicted with forms of dementia or even Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is a degenerative disease that can occur when a person has suffered from a severe impact to the head or several severe impacts to the head.
     MMI has been public since March 2009, and CEO Dr. Stuart Titus, Ph.D., notes that they are the first publicly-traded industrial hemp/medical cannabis company in the US.
     MMI is mostly involved with industrial hemp, and the medicinal extract CBD. MMI has four divisions that are involved in nutraceutical sales of hemp-based CBD products, and two divisions that are in pharmaceutical development. MMI’s products are legally accessible throughout the 50states, as well as in some foreign countries.
     Titus’s involvement with the company started when he was an investor. “I have been involved with the company as an investor initially and, basically, I had been involved with medical cannabis just as an ancillary to my physical therapy,” said Titus.
     This interest in cannabis, or at least in the compounds coming from it, is what caused him to think about the many athletes who had mentioned that they were using medical cannabis to treat injuries that caused painor inflammation. “This was something that I had thought about and as time went along I said, ‘I’ve got to find out if there really is science behind this.’ Sure enough, there was,” said Titus.
     MMI derives its product (CBD) from hemp, yet hemp has been allowed in the US for research purposes only. Many other industrialized countries around the worldare allowed to grow hemp including our neighbor, Canada, but they grow their hemp mainly for seed oil and protein powder. MMI has sourced their hemp in Europe, where farmers have been growing for decades. A specific strain of hemp was selected and bred for CBD production, “We thought that we could potentially grow a high concentration CBD hemp crop. It took quite a few years and by the year 2011, we had our first extractions done and had them imported and nutraceutical products were available by the beginning of 2012,” said Titus.
     MMI has been at the center of a legal shift for a few governments including Brazil, Mexico, and Paraguay, where families petitioned the government to allow the import of MMI’s CBD products to help with their children’s disorders. “A family in Dallas, Texas, had blogged that they had some great success with our product and a parent in Brazil with family that has similar disorders saw this and wanted to then import our product legally,” said Titus.
     MMI’s product was not permitted at the time, but because no medication was available to help this person, the government authorities did some research and ultimately changed their position and soon allowed the product into the country for the family. The product worked well enough that the government gave MMI’s CBD products a blanket authorization. Patients now can get a prescription for the product if they qualify for their government healthcare program.
     “People in other Latin American countries have been seeing this as well, so there are four families in Mexico that have petitioned the government to allow our product in, and going back to the fall of 2015 attorneys were representing these families. They mentioned to us that if we could come up with a THC-free form, that we could bring it into Mexico,” said Titus. Sure enough on February 1, 2016, MMI’s product was brought into Mexico for two children suffering from epilepsy. Now with doctor’s prescription, MMI is the only legal cannabis-based product in Mexico.
     One of the MMI’s divisions in pharmaceutical development, Kannalife Sciences, has a license agreement from the US Institute of Health to develop and commercialize the US government’s patent on the therapeutic use of cannabinoids, which describes cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants. The National Institute of Health cited two indications for the patent; the first is to treat a liver/brain disorder known as hepatic encephalopathy, and the second is to treat CTE. The company has been at this for a couple of years now they’ve recently come up with a new molecule currently in clinical development. “We’re doing animal studies at Temple University and certainly we believe that there is a great hope for many of these ex-NFL football players,” said Titus.
     “Just recently there was research study done showing that cannabinoids do help to dissolve and dissipate a type of plaque that develops in many elderly people with dementia,” Titus began. He went on to explain that the plaque is a type of protein called beta-amyloid, and cannabinoids have been proven to reduce and start to dissolve the accumulation in nerve and neuronal cells. “Similar to beta amyloid is what’s called a Tau protein, which tends to develop in these ex-NFL football players who have had repeated concussions. Tau and this beta-amyloid are closely related, and so the next step is to conduct a petri dish model,” said Titus. (A petri dish model is a small scale experiment to see if tau proteins react to cannabinoids.) 
     “What could potentially be a pharmaceutical medication is being developed. We may also find some great benefit just with people taking the natural botanical remedy,” Titus added.
     Dr. Stu Titus and those at MMI and Kannalife Sciences believe that there is a tremendous future for their company, and that these cannabinoids will help to “supplement the largest self-regulatory system in the human body,” as Titus put it. This system is known as the endogenous cannabinoid system, and is responsible for regulating all of our physiological functions—mood, sleep, appetite, digestion, and hormone production.
     Those at Medical Marijuana Incorporated are working to make medical advances through cannabis and hemp and, in doing so, have caused a domino effect in four Latin American countries where government authorities have re-thought their stance on CBD-based products after they found that the compounds help with certain ailments. MMI is just one company that shows that a push for legalizing hemp in the United States is greatly needed and can lead to great profit, in a number of ways.