A new experimental cannabis-based drug has succeeded in treating children with Dravet syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy.
A study conducted by GW Pharmaceuticals has shown that Epidiolex can successfully treat children with Dravet syndrome. GW claimed that a 120-patient trial showed patients taking Epidiolex were able to reduce their convulsive seizures by 39 percent, compared with a reduction on placebo of 13 percent.
“This shows that cannabinoids can produce compelling and clinically important data and represent a highly promising new class of medications, hopefully in a range of conditions,” Chief Executive Justin Gover told Reuters.
Cannabinoids are active receptors found within the cannabis plant and the human body. According to the National Cancer Institute, cannabinoids “activate specific receptors found throughout the body to produce pharmacologic effects, particularly in the central nervous system and the immune system.” The NCI admits that cannabinoids “may have benefits” in the treatment of cancer-related side effects. A 2014 study published in the Molecular Cancer Therapeutics journal found that the two most common cannabinoids, THC and CBD, may do more than treat cancer-related side effects — they can inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
Gover said GW will now request a meeting with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to discuss plans for regulatory approval for treating Dravet syndrome. GW already has approval for a cannabis-based multiple sclerosis treatment in more than 20 countries, but not the United States.
Although there are currently no FDA-approved therapies for Dravet syndrome, cannabis has been shown to treat epilepsy in the past, most notably with Charlotte Figi. Charlotte is best known as the face of Weed, the 2013 documentary that highlighted the success of using cannabis to reduce the seizures she experienced as the result of Dravet Syndrome, a rare and severe form of epilepsy that begins in infancy. The successful treatments have even led to the creation of a strain of cannabis which is low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the most prominent cannabinoid and the one responsible for the plant’s psychoactive effects, and cannabidiol (CBD). Known as “Charlotte’s Web,” the strain is being used to treat patients around the country.
In 2015 I interviewed a former law enforcement officer from Southern California who formerly spent years locking people up for possession of cannabis and now helps patients get access to cannabis oils.
“Back in 2006 I started looking at this a little more aggressively, as an individual who was completely ignorant to what it was we were throwing people in jail for,” Howard said. “I didn’t understand it, wasn’t educated about it. The stigma that surrounds this beautiful culture is unfortunate, but it’s helping people and those who are being helped are now finding a voice and making themselves known.”
Epidiolex, Charlotte’s Web, and Howard Wendell are only a few examples of the way in which the failed War on Drugs is coming to an end. Perhaps as entrepreneurs and politicians recognize cannabis as the cash crop that it is, more cannabis-friendly policies will be enacted. As Activist Post recently reported, new data released by Marijuana Business Daily shows that the U.S. cannabis industry will add $44 billion to the nation’s economy by 2020. These estimates are based on the assumption that legalization and decriminalization of cannabis will continue.
For more information on the benefits of cannabis please watch the mini-documentary, Cannabis as Medicine.