DEA Removes CBD Drug from Controlled Substances List: What Does it Mean for the Cannabis Industry? 

As of April 2020, the Drug Enforcement Administration has officially voted to remove CBD from its list of federally controlled substances. 

Epidiolex is a prescription drug derived from cannabis and commonly used in the treatment of epilepsy. Though it was formally on Schedule V of the Controlled Substances Act, effective immediately, that is no longer the case. 

Here’s the implications of the move – and what you need to know. 

What is CBD? 

CBD is an oil derived from cannabis. It’s one of many cannabinoids in the marijuana plant, but it’s not known to produce a high, like other types of cannabinoids (such as THC). 

There has been a significant amount of controversy surrounding CBD, particularly because of the stigma related to recreational marijuana use. However, there is growing awareness at a local and international level about the potential health benefits of CBD oil as explained here

Uses for CBD 

Although many of CBD’s uses are still being heavily researched, there is some evidence to suggest that CBD may be a reliable treatment for conditions such as: 

  • Anxiety 
  • Seizures
  • Alzeheimers’ disease
  • Arthritis
  • Chronic pain
  • Acne
  • Cancer

To date, it is used in several medical treatments for these various conditions. It can be used as both an oil or a powder, mixed into a gel or cream, or even put into a capsule. It has minimal side effects, although there are some that have been reported. CBD can even be used for pets!

What Does This Mean?

As a result of this shift, patients will now be able to obtain Epidiolex more easily. The changes may pass down from the federal to the state level slowly, but once they do, states will no longer be required to include Epidoliex in its prescription drug monitoring programs. 

As is the case with other non-controlled drugs, like antibiotics, you’ll still need to get a prescription from your doctor. However, the prescriptions will be valid or a year and can be transferred between pharmacies – something that is not possible with controlled substances like opiates. 

Patient access to this drug will be dramatically increased. It’s a major win for people suffering from Dravet Syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, two extremely debilitating forms of epilepsy. 

The drug used to treat these conditions was approved by the FDA in 2018, but was categorized as a controlled subject instead of as a Schedule I drug, like marijuana and its other derivatives, until this point. 

The FDA rebelled against this decision, arguing that CBD contains minimal risks and has established health benefits LINK. 

Implications for the CBD Industry

Although Epidiolex is just one drug out of many that include CBD – and probably contributes to a very small percentage of CBD use – this step is a major win for CBD producers.

Not only will it serve as a precedent that may allow other CBD products to become more readily available, but it may help the FDA along in the process of developing regulations for hemp-derived CBD products that aren’t approved medications. 

It’s a small step, but it’s significant for CBD producers all over the country who are sick of dealing with the endless red tape and frustration.

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