Posted on Jun 26, 2018, 6 p.m.
The US Food and Drug Administration has approved the first drug derived from cannabis oil for use nationwide within the USA, which will be used for treatment of two rare forms of epilepsy.
Epidiolex is made from cannabidiol components of marijuana known for its muscle relaxing and pain relieving properties. CBDs administered as thick oil have been found to drastically reduce patient seizures in clinical trials for Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndromes.
Contrary to the misconception CBD does not induce a high as does the other cannabis component TCH. Before Epidiolex can be legally brought to market the FDA will have to reclassify CBD which is currently listed on Controlled Substance Schedule 1 alongside illicit narcotics such as LSD, cocaine, and heroin making them illegal on the federal level, even though CBD has been made legal in most states.
Epidiolex will only be available for patients suffering with the two forms of epilepsy, but this is still considered to be a considerable step forward for medical marijuana research. In the past the FDA has approved synthetic versions of THC to treat nausea in chemotherapy patients, but up until now has not approved any medications directly extracted from the cannabis plant.
Currently medical marijuana is legal for use in 30 states within the USA and is also legal for recreational use in 8 of those states. Some states have more stringent definitions of medicinal marijuana than others, such as Louisiana only allows patients to consume cannabis based medicines in pill or oil form, other states restrict it to patients suffering from a few rare illnesses. Despite that they are still classed as schedule one, making them all illegal on the federal level, causing much confusion.
This important medical advancement of FDA approval of Epidiolex is indeed a significant step towards guaranteeing access to cannabis based treatment for patients across the USA. In far too many cases the current system is cause of much confusion, people looking to treat children, themselves, and other family member’s illnesses with CBD have had to move to states where the compound is legal. Without regulation patients risk inaccurate dosage, inconsistent quality, and uncertainty of supply.
Dravet syndrome appears in early childhood causing frequent seizures, impaired motor skills, and hyperactivity. Lennox-Gastaut syndrome begins in childhood causing multiple types of uncontrollable seizures. Unfortunately for both conditions it is estimated that 1 in 5 patients will die before reaching the age 20.
For many years activists have claimed that CBD can be used to treat a wide range and long list of ailments including Parkinson’s disease, cancer, strokes, schizophrenia, AIDS, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, glaucoma, migraines, and arthritis. The FDA has had a dim view until recently of these claims and has made promises to take legal action against companies marketing unregulated CBD products designed to treat serious illness, concerned with unapproved products that could discourage patients from seeking other approved therapies for serious or life threatening diseases. FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb has said that it is committed to this kind of careful scientific research and drug development making these kinds of important medical advances.
Canada announced that recreational marijuana use and cultivation will be legalized in October 2018 and is lifting a 95 year ban, that being said there will still be limits and regulations. Canada will become the 5th Western country standing to possibly make a fortune by fully legalizing cannabis on a nationwide level joining countries such as Uruguay, Spain, Norway, and Switzerland, while the USA takes tentative steps forward towards legalization.
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