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This latest marijuana survey should be great news for cannabis-focused biotechs

No pain, big gain? There could be an untapped market for cannabinoids that biotechs aren’t aggressively pursuing yet.

Support for medical marijuana is at an all-time high in the U.S. The first marijuana plant-based prescription drug is on the verge of winning FDA approval for treating two rare forms of epilepsy. But could cannabis-based drugs target more common indications that affect millions of Americans? Maybe so.

A recent survey uncovered some intriguing news about how some individuals are using marijuana. These results could hint at the potential for biotechs to develop cannabinoids that can treat a problem that affects nearly 40 million Americans.

Older adults and marijuana

It’s not just younger adults who support legalization of medical marijuana. In April, the AARP reported findings from a survey that found 80% of Americans between the ages of 50 and 80 either strongly or somewhat support the use of marijuana with a physician’s consent. Only 6% of these older individuals actually used marijuana themselves, though.

Keep in mind that the AARP survey included states where medical marijuana isn’t yet legal. A new survey conducted by Colorado market intelligence and consumer research firm BDS Analytics provides a new perspective on senior adults and marijuana use.

BD Analytics surveyed 11,600 adults in 26 states where medical marijuana has been legalized. This survey found that 12% of adults age 50 and over have personally used marijuana in the last six months. Another 41% are thinking about trying marijuana.

But what’s especially intriguing is why these older Americans have either used marijuana or are considering doing so. Only a small fraction — 6% — stated their purpose of using marijuana was to get high. The No. 1 reason cited was for pain relief. Nearly one out of five survey respondents age 50 or older who were thinking about using or had already used marijuana were most interested in the drug because of its potential to alleviate pain.

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire

It’s unlikely that Americans, especially older Americans, would consider using marijuana for pain relief unless they thought the drug would be effective. As it turns out, where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

Research has identified quite a few reasons to believe that marijuana could be effective at relieving pain. A scientific study published in 2014 found significantly fewer opioid overdose deaths per year in states that had legalized medical…

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