At the United States Federal level, cannabis is currently classified as a schedule I narcotic, and has been so for a while now; marijuana prohibition is a thing as old as the Hoover administration (the 1930’s). If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you’re aware of the efforts and steps being taken to decriminalize, legalize, and medicalize marijuana, and in no small part these efforts are reflected in Californian laws as well as many other states. In contrast to the states, and until very recently, the Federal government has remained absolute on their stance. But dear readers, the times, they are a-changin.
On June 25th of this year, the US Food and Drug Administration took a major step towards the rescheduling of marijuana, but it may be a more indirect route than many were hoping for. On a day that may just go down in history, the FDA announced their approval of a drug called Epidiolex, a CBD based treatment for seizures that are associated with two debilitating forms of epilepsy: Dravet syndrome, and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. It’s difficult to overstate how big of a deal this is in many ways. As these syndromes begin to show themselves at a very early age, the primary patients for this medication are children. Children who, without intervention, can suffer developmental defects including to language skills, motor skills, and intellectual capabilities, as well as persistent seizures that completely inhibit any function of daily life. This medication offers hope where there really was none, and where the only alternatives parents had to try to help their children were dramatically more expensive and likely even more detrimental in their own ways. This medication can give people their lives.
The effects of this approval do not nearly end at the lifesaving capabilities a CBD based medical therapy offers sufferers of conditions which many of us are fortunate enough to not be able to truly comprehend the rippling difficulties of. At the Federal level, there are imminent effects on the way. To be classified as a schedule I, the drug must have a high potential for abuse, have no accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and a lack of safety for the use of the drug even under medical supervision. As the Independent Voter Network reported at the time of this announcement, “If we think of that legal definition of a Schedule I substance as a three-legged stool, the FDA’s approval of a marijuana-based pharmaceutical this week just knocked out two of the three legs,” (IVN 06/26/18). At risk of stating the obvious, if you sit on a stool with two legs, you will soon find yourself on the floor. The gears are turning, and they’re turning in the right direction.