Medical marijuana still hasn’t been legalized nationwide, but a recent decision by the Food and Drug Administration may have taken the United States an eighth closer.
The FDA on Monday approved the first ever prescription drug made from marijuana.
While the medication, called Epidiolex, does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC — the component of marijuana that causes the feeling of being high — it does contain cannabidiol, or CBD, another chemical derived from the cannabis plant, according to a press release from the FDA.
Epidiolex is intended to be used by patients two years old or older for the treatment of seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, two rare and severe forms of epilepsy, according to the release. Produced by GW Pharmaceuticals, the drug is reportedly a strawberry-flavored syrup, Time reports.
“This approval serves as a reminder that advancing sound development programs that properly evaluate active ingredients contained in marijuana can lead to important medical therapies,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., who reiterated the FDA’s commitment to “this kind of careful scientific research and drug development.”
Researchers studied the effects of the drug in more than 500 patients who experienced difficult-to-control seizures and found that the drug reduced the frequency of seizures when taken with other medications. Side effects include fatigue, diarrhea and decreased appetite, among others.
The drug’s approval is likely a win for supporters of the legalization of marijuana, who commonly tout the proposed health benefits of the drug as just one reason to loosen restrictive laws.
Another reason to legalize medical marijuana? Fighting the nationwide opioid epidemic that’s currently sweeping the nation, some claim.
[Photo: Stock image of marijuana leaf over yellow background. By Victoria Bee Photography, via Getty Images]