In late June, the Food & Drug Administration for the first time approved a cannabis-derived drug, and it could change the landscape of marijuana in the United States, possibly within the next month. Epidiolex contains an active ingredient of CBD found in marijuana, and was approved to treat severe forms of epilepsy in children.
According to a report from The Philadelphia Inquirer, the CEO of the company responsible for Epidiolex said before the drug can be prescribed, it must be reclassified to be lower than it’s current Schedule I status, Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. Section 812. He said he expects this to happen within 90 days of the FDA approval. This means marijuana could very well be reclassified by late September. It doesn’t mean that there will be a total free-for-all on cannabis use, but a lower scheduling will mean that the federal government will finally acknowledge the plant has medicinal benefits, and medical marijuana programs across the country can be released from the grips of the federal ban.
As our trusted Orange County marijuana attorneys can explain, there are several reasons it has taken federal leaders so long to release their grip on cannabis prohibition. First of all, anti-marijuana propaganda has been deeply ingrained in the American psyche for decades through drug prevention programs and public service campaigns. The campaigns themselves have their own nefarious roots, as marijuana has a history of being used as a tool to target minority groups and political activists. Law enforcement agencies have legitimized their questionable arrest practices by exaggerating the effects of cannabis to a naive nation.
Second, these same law enforcement agencies soon learned this practice also meant extra funding for their departments. “War on Drugs” quickly became a buzz term that got people worked up into a fervor over scary drug lords and sketchy dealers preying on our children. While those things certainly exist, it’s much more difficult to crack down on meth houses and massive cartels than it is to round up average marijuana users. On paper, though, incarcerating someone with a personal bag of marijuana looks the same as the arrest of a cocaine trafficker, and racking up big numbers of drug-related arrests keeps “War on Drugs” funding flowing into police departments.
Third, and this is perhaps the biggest factor, is massive lobbying money coming in from pharmaceutical companies. We are learning more and more each day how many potential health benefits cannabis holds. So why wouldn’t pharmaceutical companies want to capitalize off of this miracle drug? The answer is shockingly simple and terribly sad: cannabis is fairly inexpensive to cultivate and can even be grown at home. Many treatments involving cannabis require little processing. Education and medical assistance can help patients learn the difference between indica and sativa strains and also understand how the right balance of THC and CBD will help their ailments. There is certainly room for pharmaceutical companies to get involved with crafting precise balances of cannabis oils, lotions, and pills to treat specific conditions. For example, Epidiolex will cost $32,500 per year before insurance, leaving little room to imagine why there is the sudden interest in legalization. The fact is, though, with the right medical guidance many people can skip the middle man of the drug companies all together and have been doing so for years.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients, defendants, workers and those facing criminal marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.
FDA Approves First Drug Comprised of an Active Ingredient Derived from Marijuana to Treat Rare, Severe Forms of Epilepsy, June 25, 2018, U.S. Food & Drug Administration
More Blog Entries:
FDA Approval Could Change Everything for Medical Marijuana, July 1, 2018, Cannabis Law Group