The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration on Monday made it easier for patients to access the only federally approved drug derived from marijuana.
GW Pharmaceuticals manufactures Epidiolex, a pharmaceutical intended to treat some very rare forms of childhood epilepsy. Epidiolex is a purified form of cannabidiol, or CBD, extracted from the marijuana plant.
On Monday, the DEA notified GW Pharmaceuticals that it no longer considers Epidiolex a controlled substance under the federal Controlled Substance Act. The change is effective immediately. The move means that Epidiolex is still a prescription medication but that doctors who prescribe it do not have to be in the DEA’s drug-monitoring program.
“This decision is a lightening bolt of sanity,” said Martin A. Lee, director of California-based Project CBD and author of Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana. “De-scheduling the drug will allow it to be prescribed off label.”