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Back in June of 2018, the FDA approved Epidiolex as the first marijuana-based medication in the United States. This month, November 2018, it became available to be prescribed and used across the country.
Epidiolex is an anti-seizure medication specifically meant for children who are two and older and suffer from either Dravet or Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, (LGS). The two forms of epilepsy begin in early-childhood and have not responded well to the past available seizure medications. Epidiolex has had a large testing trial and looks to be significantly more effective than those past medications.
The medication itself, while made from components of cannabis, does not carry the same effects that people associate with the drug. In particular, Epidiolex does not contain any trace of THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana. It is exclusively made from CBD compounds, that have had a large backing for years when it came to their potential healing effects. CBD is also the main reason that marijuana is becoming approved for medical use across the country. THC is the psychoactive component that causes the “high” that marijuana is famous for. Since THC is not present in Epidiolex, users can’t get high off of it, and its potential for abuse is much lower than other medications.
Despite marijuana and CBD being Schedule I substances, and many states still not allowing the use of medical marijuana, the FDA-approved Epidiolex bypasses those state-by-state restrictions and is available as a prescription everywhere.
Epidiolex is the first FDA-approved medication to be made from cannabis, despite its legalization at the state level in many areas. That opens up possibilities for other medications derived from CBD to make it into the mainstream. In particular, the potential of a painkiller could help curb the number of opioids that are being prescribed and help with the current opioid epidemic that we find ourselves in.
While this is only the first application of a federally approved CBD-based medication, it shows hope for more medications to use a less addictive component. However, it is new and that means it will be put under a lot of scrutiny and can still face some push back from other organizations. Hopefully, however, this leads to opioids becoming less relied upon in the medical field.
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