A marijuana-based drug has shown promising results as a treatment for a rare and deadly form of epilepsy in its first large-scale clinical trial. In the randomized trial of the cannabis derivative, cannabidiol, scientists showed a significant reduction in seizures among children suffering from Dravet syndrome—a complex disease that leads to developmental problems and has high mortality rates.
Dravet syndrome normally appears in the first year of life. Unlike other forms of epilepsy, seizures cannot be managed with drugs. They are frequent and prolonged, lasting more than 30 minutes. By the age of two, normal development starts to slow down, with sufferers lacking coordination and delayed speech. Between 10 and 20 percent of children with Dravet syndrome do not reach adulthood.
Scientists have been investigating marijuana’s potential for treating Dravet syndrome for many years. In 2013,