Marijuana drug wins FDA approval—a first that may change federal regulations

Enlarge / A marijuana leaf. (credit: Getty | Bloomberg)

Marijuana now has an accepted medical use.

The US Food and Drug Administration announced today, Monday June 25, the approval of the country’s first marijuana-based prescription medication. The drug is called Epidiolex and is a plant-derived oral solution of cannabidiol (CBD)—a chemical component of marijuana that does not cause intoxication or a euphoric “high.” The FDA approved it for use in patients aged two and older who suffer from rare and severe forms of epilepsies known as Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, which can develop early in childhood. Epidiolex’s approval also marks the first time the FDA has approved a drug to treat Dravet syndrome.

With the historic approval, the London-based company behind the drug, GW Pharmaceuticals plc, is expecting another consequential decision in the coming weeks: getting the US Drug Enforcement Administration to reclassify CBD. The move could open the doors to other marijuana-derived medications as well as ease heavy restrictions on marijuana-related research.

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