Week in Review: FDA approves CBD drug, Arizona court bans marijuana extracts & federal cannabis reform
The FDA signs off on a cannabis-derived drug to treat epilepsy, an Arizona court says marijuana extracts are illegal in the state, and a bill that would deschedule MJ is introduced in Congress.
Here’s a closer look at some notable developments in the cannabis industry over the past week.
CBD’s ‘immutable support’
Marijuana advocates have been trying unsuccessfully since 1972 to refute federal drug classifications that cannabis has “no currently accepted medical use.”
So when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a cannabis-derived drug, Epidiolex, the entire MJ industry applauded – and braced for changes as the federal government prepares to reclassify CBD, or cannabidiol, a molecule in cannabis flowers.
“This is immutable support that marijuana- and hemp-derived products are indeed medication,” said Steve Schain, a lawyer with Hoban Law Group in Pennsylvania.
“That is the foundation upon which the rest of the marijuana and hemp industries will be based.”
Expect to see other pharmaceutical companies pursue cannabis therapies for FDA approval.
“There is a massive opportunity in applying sound medical standards and protocols to the medical cannabis industry,” said Joe Reiz, director of clinical research for Toronto-based Resolve Digital Health, which makes cannabis inhalers.
Others, however, caution that the pipeline to get FDA approval and to market – a process that usually takes more than a decade – means that business opportunities for pharmaceutical cannabis will likely be limited to firms with enough capital to finance years of expensive trials with no guarantee that a profitable product will result.
“I don’t see a flood of new businesses going this route,” said Jonathan Miller, lawyer for the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, a Kentucky-based hemp advocacy and lobbying group.
Even the FDA threw some cold water on industry enthusiasm, adding an unusual memo along with its approval letter to warn