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2023 Study: Cannabis—The State of the Art

Updated: Apr 19, 2023

This article is brought to you by the new Higher Learning LV Core Cannabis course and was the discussion topic of episode No. 40 of the Cannabis Commerce + Chemistry Podcast.


Cannabis Science—The State of the Art in 2023

A March 2023 study entitled "Cannabis—A State of the Art About the Millenary Plant: Part I" that was published in the journal Forensic Chemistry had the goal of providing information related to "general concepts of Cannabis."

These concepts included its composition, taxonomic classification, a summary of the biosynthesis of its primary chemical class (cannabinoids), contributions over the years in medicine, [and] notes about the use of its derived products for recreational purposes."

The researchers explained some of the types of cannabis and their names, including "marijuana (the crude drug derived from the plant Cannabis)." They reported that the plant is widely used for "recreational purposes" and that other popular forms include "hashish (extracted from the plant's inflorescences [flowers]), hash oil, and skunk (a hybrid of the cross between Cannabis sativa × indica cultivated under specific conditions)."

Cannabis State of the Art 2023 Study Highlights

This comprehensive and detailed study covers a range of aspects about cannabis, including its history of discovery and research milestones spanning nearly a century. It also goes into great detail regarding the primary chemical components of the plant, including cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes.

The research provides a solid history of the cannabis sativa botanical species, including its cultivation and use as fiber and rope more than 12,000 years ago in Central Asia and China. It also summarizes the plant's medicinal use back to 2700 BCE with the milestone "Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing notes hallucinatory effects, appetite stimulation, and tonic effects with oral use of Cannabis."

"Delta-9 THC features 20 times the anti-inflammatory power of aspirin, CBD conveys antinausea effects, and delta-9 THC reduces the pain of multiple sclerosis."

The study describes a total of 80 "historical contributions and therapeutic directions using Cannabis/cannabinoids," including its use as a holy salve during the Tenth century, its application for menstrual disorders in 1596, development of its modern naming system in 1753, and its role as a sleep aid in 1860. It also describes the discovery in 1991 that delta-9 THC features "20 times the anti-inflammatory power of aspirin," the 2002 insight into how CBD conveys antinausea effects, and the 2004 observation that delta-9 THC reduces the pain of multiple sclerosis.

120 Cannabis Cannabinoids Discovered To Date

The research lists 120 cannabinoids that have been discovered to date. Higher Learning LV coves the 25 most important of these molecules in our Core Cannabis Lite Track (including the eight most common terpenes).

The researchers explain how CBGA, the acidic precursor to CBG, is responsible for the production of the other acidic precursors in the plant which ultimately—and under the correct environmental conditions—morph into their neutral versions, including the most popular commercial cannabinoids, CBD, delta-8 THC, delta-9 THC, and delta-10 THC.

Cannabinoid biosynthetic pathways

Cannabis Cannabinoid Subclasses

Helping dispel a decades-old urban legend that claims that there are multiple sources of cannabinoids beyond cannabis, the study reported that "the biosynthesis of cannabinoid compounds is unique to Cannabis." The researchers also explained that there are 11 chemical subclasses of cannabinoids, including the following:

  1. Δ9- tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC)

  2. Δ8-tetrahydrocannabinol(Δ8-THC)

  3. Cannabigerol (CBG)

  4. Cannabichromene (CBC)

  5. Cannabidiol (CBD)

  6. Cannabinodiol (CBND)

  7. Cannabielsoin (CBE)

  8. Cannabicyclol (CBL)

  9. Cannabinol (CBN)

  10. Cannabitriol (CBT)

  11. Miscellaneous type

Cannabis Flavonoids

In addition to covering cannabinoids and terpenes, the scientific investigation also explored flavonoids, the pigment molecules featured in the flowers of thousands of different plant species that have been shown to provide similar medicinal efficacy to cannabinoids, including anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties.

The study's authors reported that more than 20 commonly occurring flavonoids have been identified to be produced by cannabis, including apigenin, kaempferol, luteolin, quercetin and three flavones, cannflavin A, B, and C. While the 20 flavonoids produced by cannabis are also made by other botanical species, the cannflavins—as their name implies—are produced by only cannabis and hemp.

Cannabis State of the Art 2023 Study Conclusions

This ambitious and relatively rare study (in terms of its pure scope) concluded that it reported "the present state of the art" for cannabis and "leading concepts for understanding the evolutionary line of research on the Cannabis plant over the years until its current applications."

This ambitious and relatively rare study (in terms of its pure scope) concluded that it reported "the present state of the art of cannabis."

This included detailed historical information, morphology, taxonomy (scientific classification), phytochemistry, cannabinoid classes, and contributions in medicine. Although not covered in this summary, the study also investigated data on abuse of cannabis. "All these important and cooperative notes mentioned above show the breadth of the theme and its applicability in various areas of science," summarized the scientists.

If Part 1 of this study was this good, we're eager to see Part 2.

🎧 Like what you just read? Listen and learn with our highly educational weekly Cannabis Commerce + Chemistry Podcast. At under 30 minutes per episode, it helps industry professionals stay current on trending topics.

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