A great deal of progress is being made on learning how marijuana’s chemical cannabinoids can be used as medicine, and among the most interesting of these marijuana compounds is cannabidiol their wise known as CBD. It’s one of at least 113 active cannabinoids found in marijuana, it’s not responsible for marijuana’s psychoactive effect, and it accounts for about 40% of the marijuana plant’s extract.

At the forefront of research into CBD’s use as a medicine is GW Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: GWPH), a U.K. drug developer that currently markets a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-derived drug in Europe for the treatment of muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis patients.

Is CBD The True Medical Catalyst Of Marijuana?

GW Pharmaceuticals recorded data from three separate scientifically controlled tests this past year identifying that its purified CBD, Epidiolex, reduces seizures by about 40% in patients with rare forms of childhood-onset epilepsy, including Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.

GW Pharmaceuticals’ findings back up anecdotal evidence that CBD heavy marijuana strains and oils provide relief to epilepsy patients. Perhaps the most well known of these high CBD strains is Charlotte’s Web, which has extremely low THC content (0.3%), and was named after the childhood epilepsy patient it was created to help.

In states that have passed medical marijuana legislation, growing evidence of cannabidiol’s efficacy in epilepsy patients is leading to greater availability at marijuana dispensaries. At last count, 28 states have passed medical marijuana laws, and 16 states have passed laws allowing the prescription of CBD oil.

Epidiolex isn’t commercially available yet, but it could be within a year. GW Pharmaceuticals hopes to file for Food and Drug Administration approval of Epidiolex soon, and an official decision would come within 10 months of that filing.

If Epidiolex becomes victorious in getting a regulatory green light, it will provide advantages to doctors and patients over CBD heavy marijuana strains and oils. While Epidiolex has been scientifically proven to work, the same rigorous proof isn’t available for CBD products like Charlotte’s Web that are sold at dispensaries. If Epidiolex is approved, it will be available nationally, regardless of each state’s laws, and that means it skirts risks associated with a federal crackdown on marijuana dispensaries by Washington. Furthermore, an FDA blessing would likely convince doctors who are otherwise hesitant to recommend medical marijuana to prescribe it.

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