If you have been paying attention, the tide has been shifting in regard to CBD and its acceptance by the Drug Enforcement Agency. Before September 27, regardless of what individual states had chosen to deem CBD legal or illegal, the DEA maintained that CBD was still a Schedule 1 drug. Yes, the same category as cocaine and many other harmful narcotics. However fair or unfair this stance, it was simply the reality of the situation. After last weekend, it seems that attitudes have started to change and the gates have cracked open…for one imparticular. GW Pharmaceuticals.
GW Pharmaceuticals is the manufacturer of Epidiolex. Epidiolex recently came onto the scene as the first, and more importantly, the ONLY FDA-approved CBD pharmaceutical brand available. It is made of mainly a highly refined CBD isolate inside of a dehydrated alcohol and sesame oil solution with flavoring. Over the weekend, the DEA made the decision to green-light this new medication and incorporate it into the loosest classes of drug categories, Schedule V. To put this into perspective, whereas last week CBD was viewed as the same as LSD and heroine, it can now be viewed as no worse than cough syrup with codeine. Although this is a step in the right direction, it most certainly does not apply to the overwhelming majority of CBD companies that are in business right now. The ability to shift to this much lesser scheduling status has two major stipulations:
· The THC content of the product must fall below 0.2%. This is slightly stricter than the current 0.3% that is currently the threshold between what is considered industrial hemp and marijuana. This new level is already being met by many in the industry.
· The product in question must undergo FDA testing and approval
It is this second stipulation that is the most troublesome and for almost everyone, an impossible task due to sheer cost. According to a study by the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development, it takes over two billion dollars to take a drug from research and development to the shelves. Billion…with a B. It goes without saying that this level of funding is completely impossible for 99% of any company inside the cannabis space
So what does this mean? For most…not much. Due to the enormous price tag that Epidiolex will bring, upwards of $32,000 per year, the majority of people will inevitably choose from the many smaller companies that already are in business. With the exception of companies that sell products that contain DEA-compliant hemp, hemp that originates from only the stalk of the plant, CBD will officially remain inside the Schedule I classification. The silver lining to this is that although big pharma is
rearing shoving its head into the CBD game, GW has gone on record as saying that they do not have any plans to push out smaller companies. Although this is far from an ideal situation, this latest occurrence is at least raising the awareness of CBD as a whole and further opening the world’s mind to the efficacy of a truly life changing plant that continues to provide relief for so many people in pain. Until a complete descheduling of CBD occurs however, we will continue to have to take what we can get and make baby steps towards the finish line.