Rescheduling of Cannabisby
Epilepsy Foundation Leads Letter in Support of Rescheduling Cannabis
The Epilepsy Foundation led a group of organizations representing individuals living with chronic and rare health conditions in an April 27 letter to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) expressing broad support from the patient community for removing federal barriers to cannabis research.
Moving cannabis from Schedule I in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) would pave the way for greater research and new treatments. Currently it is difficult for scientists and researchers to organize clinical trials involving cannabis because it is a Schedule I substance and only the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA) can cultivate cannabis for medical research. There are also additional costs and infrastructure requirements due to the Schedule I status that can limit innovation and investment in medical benefit research.
Recently the DEA announced it would make a determination on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommendation on the scheduling of cannabis in the first half of 2016. This announcement was included in a letter from DEA, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), sent to the Senate in response to a 2015 letter.
The Epilepsy Foundation is committed to supporting physician directed care, and to exploring and advocating for all potential treatment options for epilepsy, including cannabidiol (CBD) oil and medical cannabis. People with uncontrolled seizures live with the continual risk of serious injuries and loss of life. If a patient and their healthcare professionals feel that the potential benefits of medical cannabis for uncontrolled epilepsy outweigh the risks, then families need to have that legal option. Nothing should stand in the way of patients gaining access to this potentially lifesaving treatment.
The Epilepsy Foundation supports legislation that would allow people living with epilepsy and uncontrolled seizures to gain access to this promising treatment option. In states where medical use of cannabis is legal as a treatment for epilepsy, a number of people living with epilepsy report beneficial effects, including a decrease in seizure activity, when using a cannabis strain rich in cannabidiol, a non-euphoric component of cannabis.
Not everyone with epilepsy should or would consider medical cannabis as a treatment option, and further research is needed on the connection between cannabis and seizures. But medical cannabis, when recommended by a treating physician, may be the best alternative for some individuals living with drug resistant epilepsy and uncontrolled seizures.
Congressional Action on Medical Cannabis
Congress has been very active of the issue of medical cannabis this year. One of the biggest developments for medical cannabis on the federal level has been the introduction of the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Protect States (CARERS) Act (S. 683), which would reschedule cannabis to lift federal barriers to cannabis research and protect individuals in states with medical cannabis programs. This was the first Senate compassionate access bill ever introduced. Soon afterwards, the House introduced a companion bill, H.R. 1538. In April, Representative Griffith introduced the Compassionate Access Act (H.R. 1774) which would require that cannabis be rescheduled and help improve access to cannabis for research purposes. The American Academy of Neurology (AAN) has endorsed H.R. 1774, truly speaking to the importance of more research on medical cannabis.
Also, Representative Scott Perry (PA) reintroduced theCharlotte’s Web Medical Access Act of 2015 (H.R. 1635) to reschedule CBD in order to improve access and protect individuals and families who are using this CBD oil. Along with this reintroduction, a Senate companion version, S. 1333, was introduced for the first time ever.
Food and Drug Administration Sends New Letters Warning Companies Inappropriately Marketing CBD
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued several more warning letters to companies that have inappropriately marketed products containing cannabidiol (CBD). Many of these companies have misrepresented the current science on CBD and many of the products contain little to no CBD. You can view the list of companies that were issued warnings at:
Please keep in mind that not all companies that advertise CBD products were tested and consumers should always be careful when purchasing CBD products for the treatment of epilepsy and uncontrolled seizures.