FDA Could Approve Prescription Drug Made From Marijuana Plant

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The U.S. could soon have its first marijuana-derived medicine.

But some people are worried about how it could impact states like Colorado, where medical marijuana already exists.

Living in Colorado, if you have a medical marijuana card you can just stop by one of the many medical marijuana dispensaries and get the products you need. The concern is if the Food and Drug Administration approves this new drug, what does that mean for all the marijuana programs that exist without FDA approval?

A Denver-based attorney who worked on the pharmaceutical legislation for this drug says all forms of marijuana can exist together.

“The future of the industry is showing itself here. There’s going to be the pharmaceutical lane, the nutraceutical lane [food as medicine], the adult-use lane. This shows how that’s all coming together,” he told the Associated Press.

Even so, there are concerns the drug could reduce the number of marijuana programs that already exist without FDA approval. According to the AP, some advocates worry that drugmaker GW Pharmaceuticals has lobbied for changes to several states’ definition of marijuana, seeking legal cover for pharmacies to sell cannabis-derived products that have the FDA’s backing.

The drug is called Epidiolex. It is made from a component of cannabis that doesn’t get users high, also known as CBD oils. CBD oils are already pretty popular — but the difference here is Epidiolex would be sold at pharmacies and would only be available for kids who have severe epilepsy.

Back in April, a panel of FDA advisers unanimously recommended the agency approve the drug. The FDA is expected to make a decision by the end of this month.