The Food and Drug Adminstration’s approval of Epidiolex, a medication derived from cannabis, could be life-changing for Americans suffering from certain types of epilepsy. It may also have far-reaching implications for U.S. marijuana policy.
Epidiolex, made by GW Pharmaceuticals, is the first medication derived from the cannabis plant ever approved by the FDA. It has in the past approved synthetic formulations of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana. The FDA’s decision directly contradicts the decision by the Drug Enforcement Administration to keep the newly approved compound, cannabidiol, under the umbrella of marijuana as a Schedule I substance, since by definition drugs in that class have no medicinal benefit.
An external FDA advisory panel recognized as much when it stated in April that cannabidiol would need to be rescheduled before legal sales of Epidiolex could begin. More importantly,