A new cryptocurrency company, 420Coin, has built a business model that allows investors to directly contribute to medical cannabis research. Cryptocurrencies are gaining rapid popularity because of their relative security, confidentiality, ease of asset transfer, protection against inflation, and decentralized nature. Cryptocurrencies are particularly invaluable in the cannabis industry because federal laws prohibit many banks from serving cannabis-based businesses.
Within the cryptocurrency space, 420Coin stands out by using blockchain technology in a way that supports medical research. The social mission of the company dictates that portions of their liquidity are directly donated to cannabis research organizations based on the belief that cannabis is being underused in the medical field.
The University of New Mexico Medical Cannabis Research Fund was established in 2016 in order to conduct clinical research on the potential effects of cannabis use, both negative and positive. The research group, led by Associate Professor Jacob Miguel Vigil in the UNM Department of Psychology, conducts wide-ranging studies on the risks and benefits of using the Cannabis plant as a pharmaceutical agent. The research program is also unique, given its reliance on donations from the public to pay for the costs of biomedical and health policy research. Cannabis remains federally classified as a Schedule I drug with no therapeutic benefits, and as a result, the conventional system of paying for clinical research using governmental funding agencies has largely excluded medical cannabis researchers.
420Coin is different than other cryptocurrency companies in the cannabis industry, because it is inherently based on the model of funding medical cannabis research, directly and transparently.
“We not only publically report the exact donations that 420coin is committed to providing to University-established cannabis research programs, but we post the actual receipts of those donations in our effort to lead the charge in a new age of community-driven health science initiatives,” explains Sami Shehadeh, one of the founders of 420Coin.
“It is exciting to see entrepreneurs working around the constraints imposed by institutional limitations to promote the betterment of society. Regulation of industry almost always lags innovation," said Assistant Professor Sarah Stith in the UNM Department of Economics and Cannabis health economist. "In the case of cannabis research, federal regulatory policy designed to control drug abuse and trafficking has limited funding for studies on the therapeutic benefits of cannabis. However, this same sclerosis in our regulatory policy offers windows of opportunity to those who can innovate beyond the regulatory constraints, such as leveraging socially conscious cryptocurrencies to fund cannabis research.”
The philanthropy-based cryptocurrency company originated from first-hand observations of the benefits of medical cannabis therapies.
“We created the company after witnessing one of our close friends struggle with the addiction to, and the lack of actual benefits from conventional pharmaceutical medications,” says Reese Little, co-founder of 420Coin. “Our friend had a tragic skiing accident, only to be prescribed a constant regimen of opiates and sedatives. It was obvious to everyone this medical approach was not optimal. Only after using medical cannabis regularly was our friend able to break his addiction to the other medications and regain a higher quality of life. We think this story is unfortunately too common and we decided to take the initiative to better the world by supporting research on a form of medication that we believe in.”
Millions of people in the United States use medical cannabis regularly and are supportive of further research into its risks and benefits. Due to federal prohibition laws and lack of federal funding, few research programs in the US. have focused on medicinal applications of using cannabis. The UNM medical cannabis research team has been conducted numerous pioneering studies in the area of cannabis use and health conditions such as opioid addiction, chronic pain, anxiety, and depression, as well as the public policy ramifications of cannabis legislation. The Fund relies on public donations to support the logistical costs of conducting medical cannabis research, as well as to provide student scholarships for future medical cannabis researchers.
“While I feel so blessed to be able to help people through my research efforts, it has been a tremendous challenge to raise funding to support the work we do,” described Vigil, “And it is truly amazing that there are so many other people out there that are just as committed to improving the world as we are. The team at 420Coin is quite impressive young people, and it is comforting to know that our future generations are filled with such smart, talented human beings who understand the true value of beneficence. I believe that we as regular citizens need to take better care of ourselves and each other in order to experience true advancements in human civilization.”
With rapid changes in state-level cannabis use laws and millions of people using medical cannabis regularly, the need for further research into the short and long-term effects of using the plant is undeniable. Regardless of any changes in federal prohibition status or governmental funding opportunities, the social-minded private sector and researcher communities are likely to continue to develop creative and functionally modern solutions to what they believe are current limitations in public health opportunities.
Descriptions of medical cannabis research conducted at UNM can be found on its Medical Cannabis Research Fund website, or on the research team’s educational website, Cannabisconnectionuniversity.com, or on its Youtube educational channel, Cannabis Connection University.