In a landmark decision, the Drug Enforcement Administration announced Thursday that it will reschedule some medicines containing CBD, as reported by Business Insider.
As it has been 46 years since the DEA has so much as budged on its stance toward the federal legalization of cannabis, the ruling is somewhat of a surprise. What’s less of a surprise is how limiting and lame the decision is.
The key idea in the ruling is that it only legalizes specific drugs containing CBD which have already been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These drugs, which for now is only one drug, are being changed to a Schedule 5 designation. Schedule 5 is the classification of drugs considered least harmful. Other drugs in that classification include cough syrup which contains codeine.
The lame part of the ruling is that it is specifically aimed at one kind of dumb medical marijuana product, Epidiolex, an epilepsy drug produced by the corporate giant GW Pharmaceuticals. The drug, which was greenlit by the FDA earlier this year, has been called “not quite medical marijuana” and is sold as a strawberry-flavored syrup.
When you find out how much it costs, you won’t know whether to laugh or cry. During a call with investors, the company said the medicine will come at the low, low price of roughly $32,500 a year.
Some proponents of Epidiolex say that the drug offers benefits that your typical CBD product don’t. “The main thing is that CBD as approved by the FDA is pharmaceutical-grade CBD. It’s manufactured under stringent standards, the same as other FDA-approved drugs,” Shlomo Shinnar, the president of the American Epilepsy Society, told Business Insider.
But it’s extremely likely that parents of children with extreme autism who aren’t fabulously wealthy will typically be taking their chances with the same plain old CBD oil we’re all used to.
Despite the whiff of pro-pharmaceutical company, anti-medical marijuana patient on the ruling, it is still a watershed moment in U.S. cannabis law. The DEA has not changed its stance on the medical efficacy of marijuana since 1972, when then Attorney General John Mitchell designated it as a Schedule 1 drug “with no currently accepted medical use.”