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As a pharmacist for almost 30 years, I have to tell you I never thought I’d live to see the day when an advisory committee to the FDA unanimously voted to approve a pot-related drug, known as Epidiolex.
It is making a lot of people scratch their heads in wonder, for many reasons: 

  • Does this mean pot is legal? No.
  • Will this drug be sold at stores without a prescription? No.
  • Is it going to make people high. No.

The FDA’s move to prescriptionize a cannabis-related drug is stunning to most, but to me. It’s really no surprise considering the pressure they’ve been under these past few years. You see, parents of children with seizures have become activists, and have been all over regulatory agencies, such as the FDA to change the laws.  

Why? Because conventional medicine like benzodiazepines, phenytoin, valproate, gabapentin and/or carbamazepine weren’t always clinically successful.

Children were becoming seriously injured or disabled from seizure-related accidents. Many died in their mother’s or father’s arms. Families were going bankrupt. Somewhere along the way, word got out that an extract called CBD (cannabidiol) from the cannabis sativa plant (ie pot) could stop the seizures and make some of these kids go from catatonic, to normal with one special cookie.

Epidiolex is causing a lot of consumer confusion, as well as heartache in Colorado, which is the state I live in.

By the way, you make your own form of cannabis every single day, and this naturally-produced compound binds to the cannabis receptor in the same exact way as if you had smoked a joint. You have “pot” receptors all over your body. 
Colorado-based dispensaries have been in business for decades, and we are experiencing a population explosion in my state, primarily because we have what I call a “Pot Rush” going on, which is akin to the Gold Rush in the 1850s, except now the commodity is weed, not gold. 
Epidiolex is pure CBD. There’s no psychoactive THC in it. This drug will require a prescription. The problem here is that dispensaries in Colorado can’t sell FDA approved drugs, like Epidiolex, and likewise, pharmacies in Colorado can’t sell cannabis-containing products.
Parents in every state (except Colorado) will soon be able to go to the pharmacy to get the drug, once it is approved and on the pharmacy shelf. You will need a prescription. FYI, cannabis-related products can and do help with dozens of conditions, especially symptoms of insomnia, pain, autism, high anxiety, inflammatory (cancer) and autoimmune disorders.

I have a longer version of this article that I can send to you if you sign up for my newsletter, at my website, suzycohen.com.

In summary, Epidiolex is different from medical marijuana, mainly because it does not contain any THC whatsoever, and also because it is FDA approved, and standardized. It is the most potent form of CBD currently available, and it can’t be sold by dispensaries. Once it hits the U.S. market, it will only be available at pharmacies nationwide, with the exception of pharmacies in Colorado. 

More: Ask The Pharmacist: Is your medicine making you gain weight?

More: Ask The Pharmacist: Coffee, cancer and other foods to minimize

Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist. The information presented here is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any condition. Visit SuzyCohen.com.

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