Diana Briggs, a mother to a teenage boy in Pennsylvania, was one of the first customers to purchase medical marijuana legally in the state’s first dispensary. She bought the medicine because her son suffers from severe epilepsy — experiencing an average of 400 seizures a day.
Taking the drug significantly reduced seizures down to less than 50 a day, a respite that Briggs has been very thankful for. Despite this, the mother reveals that she continues to worry that one of these days, one attack could result in something fatal.
But here’s another good news for Briggs, along with other mothers nursing back to health someone they love: CNN reported that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the use of Epidiolex, a medicine derived from marijuana, and prescribed to treat two rare forms of epilepsy.
This approval is a big step for the cannabidiol (CBD) industry, particularly the hemp market, which recently reported a monumental $820 million sales in the U.S. alone for 2017. Despite this success, the industry continues to be cloaked in taboo and opposition, particularly in religious, conservative countries.
In Great Britain, for example, six-year-old Alfie Dingley, who suffers from a rare form of epilepsy, was refused clearance to take a few drops of CBD oil to control his condition.
This prompted his mother, Hannah Deacon, to bring him to the Netherlands where he was allowed to take the drug, per BBC. For the first time in his life, he was able to enjoy 24 days without an epileptic attack.
After his vacation, Alfie returned to Britain and resumed taking the only medicine he was allowed: steroids administered via injection, which could eventually prove to be more dangerous than CBD oil in the long run.
But with the approval of GW Pharmaceuticals’ (NASDAQ:GWPH) Epidiolex, proven to perform very well against symptoms from Lennox-Gastaut (a severe form of childhood-onset epilepsy) and Dravet syndromes (a seizure often triggered by high temperatures), the hemp industry might just have the right push to open more discussions. It might also spearhead further research into the benefits of CBD and put it on legislation.
Epidiolex might just create the desired global ripple effect across Europe to encourage this emerging market to flourish. In the U.K., where cannabis remains illegal, influential groups like the free-market think tank Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) has solidly shown support when it comes to the legalization of the controlled substance, The Guardian reported.
According to a released IEA report, they have concluded that criminalization of cannabis in the U.K. has failed, which has led to the proliferation of dangerous, high-strength drugs in the black market.
The report said, “The dominance of hazardous, high-strength ‘skunk’ cannabis in the black market should be a key reason for legalisation. Licensed sales would allow safer, regulated cannabis to displace the more dangerous strains and generate tax revenue that could be spent on mental health services.”
In the U.S., even though many states have already legalized the use of CBD for both medical and recreational reasons, the substance remains to be illegal under federal law.
This continues to be a hindrance specially to CBD industry players like GW Pharmaceuticals and PotNetwork Holdings Inc. (OTCMKTS:POTN), which has exceptionally achieved milestones in encouraging other industries to consider the use of hemp as raw material for a wide variety of products (natural care, food and beverage, as well as industrial).
For PotNetwork Holdings Inc. alone, the company’s revenue has grown by more than 50 percent in the first five months of 2018 compared to the same period last year.
More options for patients
But more than just strengthening an industry that has brought in jobs and investments in the U.S. and abroad, the FDA approval of Epidiolex has highlighted the importance and potential of CBD as a medical ally.
In a statement released by FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, he recognized and stressed the importance of conducting proper research to prove safe and effective uses of substances found in marijuana and its chemical components.
“Over the past decade, we’ve seen a growing interest in the development of therapies derived from marijuana and its components. Proponents of “medical marijuana” advertised its uses for a wide number of medical conditions, such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety – just to name a few of the touted conditions,” he said.
“Today, the FDA approved a purified form of the drug cannabidiol (CBD). This is one of more than 80 active chemicals in marijuana. The new product was approved to treat seizures associated with two rare, severe forms of epilepsy in patients two years of age and older. This product approval demonstrates that advancing sound scientific research to investigate ingredients derived from marijuana can lead to important therapies. This new treatment provides new options for patients.”
Despite this confidence, the FDA Commissioner stressed that CBD oil from marijuana should be carefully extracted as unlike the hemp-based one, there is the underlying factor of consumers experiencing a high feeling.
“[M]arijuana is a Schedule I compound with known risks. Research to demonstrate that marijuana or its components could be safe and effective in the treatment of medical disorders should be held to the same standard as other drug compounds. And certainly it should not be held to a lower standard, as some proponents would suggest. The FDA has an active program to assist drug developers who want to investigate marijuana or its components through properly controlled clinical trials, to demonstrate the potential for safe and effective uses.”
This is where companies like POTN, through its subsidiary Diamond CBD, are at an advantage. The firm, which has focused on keen research, development, and multinational marketing of premium hemp extracts that contain a broad range of cannabinoids and natural hemp derivatives, has already perfected products that are proven safe and effective for consumers.
The company’s products are distributed in more than 10,000 retail locations. One notable product is its CBD-infused Chill Gummies line, sold with flavors that include traditional Gummy Bears, Watermelon Slices, Tart Sour Snakes, Sprinkled Rainbow Bites, Yummy Gummy Worms, Tangy Sour Bears, and Quenching Ocean Gummies, among others.
Aside from this, POTN also offers premium CBD oil products like Blue CBD unflavored and flavored crystals isolate and vape products such as Diamond CBD Full Spectrum Vape.
And with FDA’s approval of Epidiolex, the next step for the CBD industry could be more than just products, but new, breakthrough medicines that could save the lives of many people.