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On September 27, 2018, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) announced that pharmaceuticals that include cannabidiol with a THC content of less than 0.1%, approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), now fall into its least restrictive category: Schedule 5. Marijuana and industrial hemp, in general, remain classified as Schedule 1 drugs as of the date of this post. To qualify as industrial hemp for purposes of federal and some state’s laws, THC content must be lower than 0.3%.

For now, the only drug that benefits from the DEA’s announcement is the CBD drug known as Epidiolex, which may be prescribed to treat seizures that occur as the result of rare forms of epilepsy. The FDA approved use of the drug three months ago, but until now, patients could only obtain it through a medical marijuana dispensary or from an MMJ caregiver (in states where legal). A doctor’s prescription will be required for Epidiolex, which can now be filled at a regular pharmacy.

Many observers are excited about the announcement, despite its limited scope. Some believe that cannabis products are now better poised to enter mainstream medicine as the DEA news shows the agency’s acceptance of medicinal benefits of CBD. It is becoming more difficult to silence the voices of patients and their loved ones who desire effective treatments for a range of maladies with fewer side effects than typical prescription drugs. Epidiolex is the first nonsynthetic cannabis drug approved by the FDA. As stories touting the benefits of cannabis for medicinal purposes have increased in recent years, demand has soared.

The DEA’s decision could open the door for acceptance of additional CBD-based drugs and products, and might even lay the groundwork for changed public perception of recreational cannabis usage. The next big news is the expected vote in Congress on the 2018 Farm Bill, which could reclassify industrial hemp in general from a Schedule 1 drug. Stay tuned!
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The next big news is the expected vote in Congress on the 2018 Farm Bill, which could reclassify industrial hemp in general from a Schedule 1 drug.  Stay tuned!