A Great Day for the Recognition of the Efficacy of Medical Cannabis

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Yesterday, June 25, 2018, was a great day at both the federal and state level (specific to Maryland) for recognition of the efficacy of cannabis treating serious diseases – epilepsy and opioid use disorder.

At the fed level, the FDA approved the first drug with an active ingredient derived from cannabis to treat rare, severe forms of epilepsy. Cannabidiol (Epidiolex) is an oral solution to treat seizures in Lennox-Gastuaut Syndrome (LGS) and Dravet syndrome, was approved for patients two years of age or older. Both are severe, childhood-onset epilepsies. It’s been stated that the FDA approval for cannabidiol is a landmark for American medicine. Epidiolex, manufactured by GW Pharmaceuticals, is made of cannabidiol, or CBD, a component of cannabis that does not give users a “high”. It is given as an oil, and in clinical trials, it was shown to reduce the number of seizures by about 40 percent in patients.

At the state level, Chair of the Policy Committee of the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC) Charles Smith III (Vice Chairman) stated during yesterday’s meeting that the most important work the entire Commission can do is support a study focused on cannabis is an effective treatment for opioid use disorder. Currently, opioid use disorder is not legislated by the State of Maryland as a qualifying condition for Maryland licensed cannabis providers to recommend cannabis.

There are two significant studies that in markets where medical cannabis is legislated, there is on average a 25% reduction in opioid use disorder (one led by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the other published in JAMA.