For nearly four decades, marijuana has been classified as a Schedule I drug, more tightly regulated than opium or cocaine. So it marked a milestone this week when the US Food and Drug Administration granted approval to the first-ever pharmaceutical derived from the cannabis plant.
Epidiolex, developed by UK-based drugmaker GW Pharmaceuticals, is a purified form of CBD meant to treat certain forms of epilepsy. While the FDA has approved other, synthesized cannabinoids—such as dronabinol, a synthetic version of THC—never before have government regulators acknowledged the medical benefits inherent in the Cannabis sativa plant itself.
As you probably know, the approval of Epidiolex has caused a bit of a scare among some in the marijuana community, specifically those who stress the importance of “whole plant” extracts containing other potentially beneficial cannabinoids. Some worry this could actually be a setback for folks who are more whole-plant focused. Do you have any thoughts on that?