Daily Dose: Will Marijuana for Sick Kids Get Government to Rethink Weed?

Marijuana Crop in Colorado
Daily Dose: Will Marijuana for Sick Kids Get Government to Rethink Weed?

For years, opponents of legalizing medical marijuana have built their case on the most powerful of political maxims: Think about the children. But today it’s the suffering of children that might eventually compel the federal government to relax its stance.
Thousands of kids across the United States are afflicted with Dravet Syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, rare forms of childhood-onset epilepsy that can cause dozens, even hundreds, of severe seizures each day. Conventional drugs have been ineffective.
Last year, however, the FDA approved a clinical trial of Epidiolex, a drug made from cannabidiol (CBD)—one of 85 active chemical compounds, called cannabinoids, in marijuana. The initial findings were promising. After 12 weeks of treatment, 54 percent of patients experienced fewer seizures and 9 percent saw their seizures cease. The trial has already moved to a double-blind, placebo-controlled study.
In addition, scientists are stepping up lab research to better understand the mechanisms of CBD, which, unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is not psychoactive. Joseph Sullivan, the director of the University of California Pediatric Epilepsy Center in San Francisco, who was also one of the investigators in the Epidiolex study, says that one of the most significant developments driving this research is that the medical community is no longer lumping cannabinoids together.
“We now know that it is the cannabidiol alone that exhibits the most antiseizure effects,” he says, “and with some of the new genetically hybridized plants, we have the ability to get higher concentrations of cannabidiol without concomitant concentrations in THC.”
But while cannabidiol can’t get anyone high, scientists repeatedly confront legal and bureaucratic obstacles to their research. Since it is extracted from the marijuana plant, it is still classified as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act. That places CBD in the same category as LSD and heroin—a drug with “a high potential for abuse” that “has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.” …
Source: National Geographic


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