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How the DEA’s new stance on GW Pharma’s epilepsy drug can energize the cannabis industry and help patients

Maruchy Lachance, COO of Boulder Botanical and Bioscience Laboratory, says the DEA’s rescheduling is a 'gateway' for development of CBD products for sports medicine and everyday wellness

Morris Denton, CEO of South Austin Texas grower Compassionate Cultivation
Morris Denton, CEO of South Austin Texas grower Compassionate Cultivation, which sells potentially life-saving cannabis oil to epilepsy patients

There’s a great deal of excitement around what appears to be an amenable US Drug and Enforcent Agency. Companies engaged in the cultivation and production of cannabis products for medical purposes expect to reap a bonanza from the DEA’s new stance on GW Pharmaceuticals PLC’s (Nasdaq:GWPH) cannabis epilepsy drug, Epidiolex.

“By rescheduling this FDA-approved CBD medicine, the DEA is confirming there are legitimate medical properties to this cannabinoid, which is an historic step forward for cannabis and its many components,” Jonathan Cooper, founder and CEO of cannabinoid research company ebbu, told Proactive Investors.  

“This move will eventually create further opportunities for research into the plant’s many other cannabinoids, and it will also kickstart the development of more cannabis-based products to address patient and consumer needs,” added Cooper.

Specifically, the DEA said Thursday it now places FDA-approved drugs with CBD in “Schedule V,” which it defines as having the lowest potential for abuse, such as cough suppressants like Robitussin. Marijuana remains a “Schedule I” drug, along with heroin and LSD.

READ: Morgan Stanley raises GW Pharmaceuticals price target to $240 on cannabis epilepsy drug Epidiolex

The DEA’s move comes three months after Epidiolex, was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndromes in patients two years of age or older. The DEA action means that GW can sell Epidiolex, a treatment for pediatric epilepsy, but did not go further to reclassify CBD as a whole.

“This acknowledgment by the federal government that CBD holds demonstrable medical use and low risk of abuse is groundbreaking. I hope Texas lawmakers take note for the upcoming legislative session as they consider potential expansion of the state medical cannabis program to include many other deserving conditions that could be helped with low-THC, high-CBD products,” said Morris Denton, CEO of Compassionate Cultivation, the only Texas-licensed cannabis grower and CBD business.

Compassionate Cultivation has a 7,200-square-foot facility in Manchaca, about 12 miles southwest of Texas. The company’s medical dispensary also sells potentially life-saving cannabis oil to epileptic children and adults.

According to the Epilepsy Foundation, roughly 30% of patients with epilepsy don’t respond to conventional treatments, and medicinal cannabis oil is there only panacea.

“My son Chris used to have 10 epileptic seizures a day. After using medicinal cannabis oil he has gone without a seizure for months,” said schoolteacher Ruth Pearson. 

The UK headquartered, US-listed GW Pharma has developed Epidiolex as treatments for Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndromes – two rare types of childhood epilepsy that are highly treatment-resistant.

“I always get asked if Epidiolex is a competitor of ours, but I don’t see it that way. I believe that the approval of Epidiolex, and other similar medicines, adds a sense of credibility and capability to the medical cannabis industry that is crucial to legislative change,” said Denton.

The CEO said that the DEA ruling helps inform legislators of the “value, power and potential” of medical cannabis.

“As has been successfully demonstrated in a majority of states, medical cannabis programs provide patients with a valuable treatment option to potentially ease their suffering and improve the quality of their lives,” said Maruchy Lachance, COO of Boulder Botanical and Bioscience Laboratory.

The Colorado-based company offers proprietary lines of hemp-derived CBD products, including Cannabinoid Complex as well as Smartleef dietary supplements.

Boulder Botanical has a large manufacturing facility in Colorado and “White label” CBD business, which refers to products made by Boulder Botanical for other companies. It works with leading cannabis brands on their original formulations and helps fine-tune them to bring them to market. The company is housed in a 26,000-square-foot in Golden, Colorado which was GE’s former health device manufacturing facility.

“The DEA’s rescheduling will be the gateway for future development of CBD products and research into the practical uses for this important cannabinoid compound in everyday wellness, sports medicine and other treatments,” said Lachance.

Cannabis use in professional sports remains a controversial issue despite developments in the space as well as a new understanding of how it may be preferable to the alternative of popping pills.

The National Football League (NFL) made headlines when they showed their interest in studying the potential use of cannabis to manage pain and inflammation.

Contact Uttara Choudhury at uttara@proactiveinvestors.com

Follow her on Twitter@UttaraProactive 

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