Is Big Pharma Ready to Jump Into the Marijuana Market?

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Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

The pharmaceutical market has become an ever-evolving industry that, at times, has a similar feeling to the wild west. As biotech companies grow and manufacturers continue to find promising treatments, a new market that may unlock a host of new possibilities has opened up. With much fanfare from other industries, and with quiet curiosity from Big Pharma, the birth of the legal marijuana market may yield a fertile new place to develop new commodities.

While the medicinal properties of marijuana have thus far been commoditized by small operations, usually operating in some sort of gray legal area, the new legal markets and increased public acceptance of cannabis are offering bigger companies an opportunity to take a serious look into the possibilities marijuana offer. With a myriad of existing products, from topical treatments to oil capsules, the medical marijuana industry has already been a source of incredible innovation and research. Cannabis has been shown to successful treat ailments as diverse as multiple sclerosis to nausea experienced by cancer patients going through chemotherapy.

So what interest do pharmaceutical companies like AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) or Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) have in an opening legal cannabis market? For starters, it has patents that are set to expire in the near future. With the long list of treatable ailments by marijuana, the answer is fairly obvious.

The adoption of cannabis-based medications and products could be the future of the pharmaceutical industry. While marijuana has been designated as a Schedule 1 controlled substance at the federal level, many states have gone ahead to pass bills making medical marijuana use legal for certain ailments. Now with two states passing legislation enabling full legalization, entrepreneurs have the chance to jump into the new industry. The problem for many national and international companies is that it does not want to be exposed to legal backlash in areas where prohibition is still in place.

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