Major news this week as the Food and Drug Administration advisers recommended approval of the drug Epidiolex, which has, as its primary ingredient, a derivative of marijuana. Known as CBD, or cannabidiol, the drug is used to treat epilepsy and help to control and prevent seizures commonly associated with the condition. The FDA will now have to decide whether or not it will provide full approval for the use of the medication and allow for it to be sold at pharmacies nationwide to patients with a valid prescription.
For a more detailed explanation, check out this article from the Washington Post.
Major Step for Medicinal Marijuana Advocates:
For many, the approval of Epidiolex is not a surprise. Those involved in the cannabis industry have, for many years, publicized the medicinal uses for marijuana and its derivatives.
Thirty-three states have passed some form of marijuana legalization, either for medicinal purposes, or, in fewer instances, for recreational use.
Advocates have touted the medical uses that can be ascribed to marijuana, and have suggested that it can treat, or alleviate the symptoms, of various diseases, including cancer, glaucoma, anxiety, insomnia, and epilepsy.
The approval of the use of CBD by the FDA will receive a final review, and hopefully be approved in the near future.
If that happens, the real question becomes, how much longer before the Federal Government declassifies or decriminalizes marijuana, at least for medicinal purposes? The answer is uncertain.
Marijuana: What’s Next?:
However, while the answer is uncertain, there is progress. After the announcement of the advisory approval of Epidiolex, Senator Charles Schumer from the State of New York, introduced legislation to “declassify” marijuana from the list of Schedule 1 narcotics, which would, essentially, decriminalize simple possession of marijuana.
Other legislation has been proposed by Congress to loosen the restrictions on Federally insured banks regarding their being able to accept deposits from and loan money to marijuana related businesses operating in States where medical marijuana or recreational marijuana use and possession are no longer criminalized.
Yet, that progress is juxtaposed with the latest policy statements from the Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney General, who have reauthorized United States Attorneys and their offices to prosecute marijuana offenses in their districts, even if the State in which their Federal District lies has legalized marijuana possession and use.
While the letter and shift in policy did not direct those U.S. Attorneys to actively ramp up their marijuana prosecution efforts in those states, the DOJ has now given their stamp of approval for such prosecutions, should those offices decide to make marijuana enforcement a budget priority in 2018 and beyond. Hopefully, however, the news from the FDA this week, and the efforts of members of Congress to loosen some of those restrictions will help to minimize the chilling effect intended by the Attorney General’s Office in resetting DOJ policy.