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The Dark Side of Cannabis Legalization and One Biotech Company's Solution

Is there such a thing as 'cannabis intoxication' and can it be treated?

This story originally appeared on Benzinga

As of July 2021, 18 states have legalized recreational marijuana while another 18 have legalized cannabis solely for medical purposes. Meanwhile, Florida, Connecticut and Hawaii all have introduced legislation supporting legalization. 

As cannabis becomes decriminalized across the country, one of the unintended consequences is an increase in use — and inevitably, an increase in cannabis intoxication. 

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ER visits have gone up

Cannabis-associated emergency department visits have gone up by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15% since the first states legalized the substance in 2012. Estimates suggest that more than 1.7 million emergency room visits in 2018 were associated with THC. Trends of adults and children accidentally consuming high concentrations of THC and synthetic THC are likely to persist.

Public discourse around the symptoms of cannabis intoxication tend to be minimized, especially in comparison to other narcotics where overdoses frequently result in death. Nevertheless, cannabis intoxication can be incredibly distressing. Symptoms include extreme anxiety, panic attacks, psychotic reactions, uncontrollable shaking or even seizures. Synthetic cannabis symptoms are more severe.

According to emergency room physicians, patients can’t wait for an antidote and neither can doctors, but unfortunately, the market has lacked an efficient solution for cannabis intoxication.

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A possible treatment for cannabis intoxication

Anebulo Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ANEB) is a clinical stage biotech company whose lead product, ANEB-001, is a promising antidote for cannabis intoxication. Anebulo’s development is significant because there are currently no approved medical treatments for alleviating the symptoms of cannabis intoxication. 

Instead, patients who head into the emergency department with cannabis intoxication have no other option but wait in the hospital until they become sober — taking up valuable resources and delaying other patients. 

Anebulo’s solution is intended to work fast and alleviate the most distressing symptoms of overdose — especially those caused by accidental ingestion of edible products and synthetic marijuana. 

The ANEB-001 treatment works by blocking the effects of THC at the brain’s CB1 receptor. In as little as 1 hour, patients could receive relief from anxiety, decreased psychosis, normalization of heartbeat and an overall decrease in feeling high. 

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How this can shape the industry

Much of the investment focus within the cannabis sector centers on production, distribution and retail cannabis brands. However, as nationwide legalization increases, so will cannabis-related emergency room visits and the need for a viable antidote.

While there’s not much that can be done to prevent cannabis intoxication, Anebulo’s solution offers the potential for fast, safe treatment that could help patients and people struggling with addiction as well as allow physicians to perform their work more effectively. 

Anebulo is a publicly traded company based in Texas. You can learn more about Anebulo’s stock data, financial reports and investor relations here.