Impending ruling on epilepsy drug has CBD industry on alert

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The most disruptive product to hit the newly legal hemp industry might be one that will never be sold directly to consumers.

GW Pharmaceuticals, a London-based biotech company, is awaiting a final decision from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to produce the first cannabis-derived treatment to win approval as legal medicine.

The decision on Epidiolex, which treats rare kinds of epilepsy, would be a seminal moment for the cannabis industry, because it would be the first signal from U.S. federal authorities that cannabis has medical value, despite decades of the drug being officially classified as having “no currently accepted medical use.”

The FDA has approved some synthetic cannabinoid medicines, but none are produced from the plant, like Epidiolex is.

FDA approval for the drug could trigger an immediate cannabis appeal from the nation’s top drug regulators to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, seeking a new classification for the plant that produces marijuana.

That’s a change marijuana activists have tried and failed to accomplish since 1972, when drug reformers first appealed the plant’s Schedule 1 designation.

The FDA will hold a public hearing on Epidiolex on April 19, with a final decision expected by late June.

If GW Pharmaceuticals, which does business in the United States as Greenwich Biosciences, succeeds where drug-policy reformers have failed for nearly 50 years, you might expect cannabis producers to cheer.

Instead, many are anxious.

(Click here to read the full story at Hemp Industry Daily.)