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GW Pharmaceuticals is Uncle Sam’s Version of Legal Weed

GW Pharmaceuticals Cannabis Now Magazine
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Joint Opinions

GW Pharmaceuticals is Uncle Sam’s Version of Legal Weed

A pharmaceutical giant has discovered what an increasing number of parents and patients across the United States have become privy to over the past several years: cannabis has the power to treat seizures. However, while the news of any scientific discovery showing definitive evidence that the cannabis plant provides an irrefutable therapeutic benefit is one that should be celebrated, there is a dark side to this breakthrough that stands to sabotage efforts to legalize medical marijuana at both the state and federal level.

When GW Pharmaceuticals announced earlier this week that its drug Epidiolex had been successful in clinical trials at reducing the frequency of seizures in children suffering from Dravet Syndrome, the company’s stock skyrocketed by nearly 140 percent, as investors dumped massive amounts of capital into the drug company in hopes of capitalizing on Uncle Sam’s version of legal marijuana. You see — Epidiolex is not some clever chemical cocktail designed by some mad scientist to prevent seizures; it is simply cannabidiol, commonly referred to as CBD, a natural, non-intoxicating compound of the cannabis plant.

What separates a drug like Epidiolex and the CBD products being sold in the 23 states and the District of Columbia where medical marijuana has been made legal is GW Pharma has the financial strength to adhere to all of the federal government’s rules for bringing the medication to the national market. In 2014, the company received permission from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the DEA to launch a series of clinical trials for its marijuana-based epilepsy medicine, with the end result likely to bring a nicely packaged, federally regulated cannabis drug to the American pharmaceutical market in 2017.

“We are excited about the potential for Epidiolex to become the first FDA approved treatment option specifically for Dravet syndrome patients and their families,” Justin Gover, GW’s CEO, said in a statement.

Once this happens, it is conceivable and highly probable that Epidiolex will be sold in popular drugstores, such as CVS and Walgreens, to patients with a prescription all across the nation. Unlike the medical marijuana being distributed at the state level, many health insurance networks will begin including the drug as part of their prescription coverage, giving those families currently shelling out sometimes thousands of dollars a month to prevent their kids from having seizures a more affordable option that will not cause them any problems with law enforcement.

The Epidiolex development could also eliminate many of the common arguments for medical marijuana legalization in the State Legislatures. After all, the moment a bunch of parents gather to testify before a committee in an attempt to persuade them to legalize cannabis oil for their sick kids, lawmakers will simply refer those people to their family physicians. “It’s already legal with a prescription,” is destined to become the most popular line of defense against CBD-only legislation.

Unfortunately, despite the varying medical marijuana programs operating across the country, the GW Pharmaceutical Epidiolex scenario is the one most likely to become the true portrait of federal legalization. With this method of bringing cannabis medications to the public, Congress doesn’t have to amend the Controlled Substances Act and marijuana can remains a under the Schedule I listing. For cannabis drugs like Epidiolex, the DEA is able to escape the “no medicinal value” conundrum by simply classifying it a Schedule II or III.

Once GW Pharmaceuticals brings Epidiolex to market, the company stands to generate a massive $1.1 billion in annual sales within the first five years, according to an analysis by Thomson Reuters Cortellis.

Meanwhile, the FDA refuses to approve marijuana as “a safe and effective drug for any indication.”

Will pharmaceutical-grade cannabis overtake efforts to legalize medical marijuana?



  1. BrooklynChickLovesLiberty

    April 15, 2016 at 8:25 am

    I thought CBD doesn’t work as well alone without all the other cannabinoids, especially THC.

  2. urnohero

    April 2, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    Ok we have known this for what 6 to 8 years since the bbc did a study on GW and the Israel project. The question remains the same. Did our own government poison its citizens to set up a monopoly only to knowingly keep the cure illegal for over 50 years. Synthesizing a plant for one condition means nothing. Let GW sell flower on a massive scale recreational and then they can have their government funded monopoly. Its only legal if your government makes money off it….You are not allowed…Abide.. What did they do during alcohol prohibition….That’s our next step.

  3. Charles Ancient Convert Ankner

    April 2, 2016 at 1:06 pm

    “Most of the early cannabis cultivation innovators of the modern community were and are – under the radar. I was. So situated, community knowledge and trade secrets were the only intellectual property protection available. Mistakenly, many old stoners still think this is the case -it will cost them dearly.”

  4. rusty

    March 26, 2016 at 6:38 am

    £300 a 30mm bottle is completely criminal! £30 is reasonable!

  5. rusty

    March 26, 2016 at 5:22 am

    Wow! Cat fight! Pete and Lynn just get a room! I personally think that g w pharmaceutical took a risk but are also part of the problem as the government won’t legalise weed while the deal with gw is inforced. Now kiss an make up!

  6. Lynn-no-duh

    March 22, 2016 at 6:42 pm

    The plant, the whole plant, and nothing but the plant.
    We don’t need Big Pharma synthetically replicating parts of this plant so they can patent and profit from it. It is a non-toxic, incredibly useful, nutritious and medicinal plant that we have a God given right to. It is food, it is medicine, and the government does not have the authority to say God made a mistake when He made us with an endocannabinoid system that benefits from cannabinoids, as proven by a plethora of scientific studies.

    • Peter Reynolds

      March 24, 2016 at 3:02 am

      Please educate yourself on what GW Pharma’s products are before you publish such false, inaccurate and embarrassing rubbish.

      • Lynn-no-duh

        March 24, 2016 at 9:26 am

        Extracting 2 cannabinoids with ethanol and carbon dioxide, and formulating it with other substances to turn it into a mouth spray does not make it “natural.” Furthermore, GW Pharma partnered with Bayer (a diabolical company) to distribute their product. I maintain we don’t need Big Pharma to part out this non-toxic plant so they can patent parts of its natural structure for their own profit, at the expense of people with medical maladies.
        The plant, the whole plant, and nothing but the plant. Restore this non-toxic miraculous plant to we-the-people!

        • Peter Reynolds

          March 24, 2016 at 11:10 am

          Lynn, you demonstrate again that you don’t know what you are talking about.

          Sativex is full spectrum cannabis oil made by CO2 extraction. Two different strains are blended before the extraction process in order to achieve a 1:1 ratio of THC:CBD.

          Sativex preserves more terpene and flavonoid and minor cannabinoid content than alcohol or BHO extraction.

          The amount of ethanol in Sativex is tiny. You would need to take more than 200 sprays to ingest the equivalent of one unit of alcohol.

          Whacko conspiracy theories about Big Pharma are so boring. GW has brought the benefits of medicinal cannabis to market through the conventional pharmaceutical licensing route.

          Stop your deluded hippy whining, be grateful and recognise this great achievement.

          • Lynn-no-duh

            March 24, 2016 at 6:34 pm

            We don’t need pharmaceutical companies to part out this natural plant. It is utterly non-toxic, while being exceedingly useful and miraculous. Why should a select few profit (at the expense of people with medical maladies) when if we restore the plant, the whole plant, and nothing but the plant to the people, so many will be healed.

            You confirmed my suspicion, Peter Reynolds. You are nothing but a prohibitionist profiteer.

          • Peter Reynolds

            March 25, 2016 at 1:47 am

            Loony Lynn. You’re great value for money you know. One comment provokes the most hilarious reaction. I don’t know why but I see you in a Bilko show special, in black and white, as the ultimate caricature of a paranoid hippy.

            It’s naaaatural maaan. I mean give it to the people for free maaan. It’s a miracle maaan.

            Come on what’s your next punch line?

            There’s plenty of dullard potheads around like you but you are exceptionally funny, a walking, talking cliche. Do you wear a bandana round your head, Aviator shades and a droopy moustache littered with bits of sticky, organic brown rice?

          • Lynn-no-duh

            March 25, 2016 at 7:18 am

            Typical prohibitionist profiteer response, Peter. You have no valid point, so you create propaganda and try to ridicule the person who is exposing your bullshit.

            This non-toxic, incredibly useful and medicinally miraculous plant was formerly (less than 100 years ago) simply part of life until profiteers and lovers of money like yourself decided they could make more money by prohibiting this utilitarian plant from we-the-people.

            It is the only plant that has the potential to make the US energy independent. Anything made out of plastic can be made out of it. It contains all essential amino acids and essential fatty acids the human body requires to survive. Medicinally, it is incredible in treatment and prophylaxis of a wide variety of oxidation associated diseases such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, with particular applications as a neuroprotectant, such as limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults such as stroke and trauma, or in treating neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimers, Parkinsons and HIV.

            Cannabis is a super-food, super-medicine, and super-industrial material, and very likely the least toxic plant on the planet. There is absolutely no valid reason for this non-toxic plant to be a controlled substance. It is literally safer than water.

            As for your propaganda and ignorant insults, Peter, you’re wrong again. I do not consume cannabis; but you would certainly make Anslinger proud.

      • Lynn-no-duh

        March 24, 2016 at 9:27 am

        Furthermore, I’d venture to guess Peter Reynolds is a prohibitionist profiteer.

  7. Loren Wiener

    March 21, 2016 at 5:39 am

    What is hinted at but not clear is Epidiolex is pure CBD oil from Hemp with no THC, not Marijuana, with hemp being 3% THC but both are Cannabis of course. If Epidiolex moves to trials for epilepsy seizure causing conditions it will fail. Those conditions that benefit 100% from hemp CBD are effectively ECS deficiencies. Other ailments like epilepsy and other seizure impacting conditions benefit differently from THC infused CBD oil as it and hemp CBD are different on the genome level of how they work. This is why folks that were on the Charlotte web strain of Cannabis products often moved on the full Cannabis as the THC was so little in Charlotte’s web building up a tolerance took little time to do so. Here in Australia pharma has had 20 years since Cali to prepare and embed in government. Currently the Australia government here is even changing the definition of the word ‘Cannabis’ in 2 bills. This is so when they use the words ‘medical Cannabis’ Cannabis product, cannabis extract etc. it can mean hemp, marijuana, or pharma. We are in a mess with no lobbying power or candidates for Cannabis, whilst pharma is embedded.

  8. Peter Reynolds

    March 19, 2016 at 1:45 am

    What is the problem with a tiny, innovative business taking great risks to bring some of the benefits of medicinal cannabis to market through the conventional pharmaceutical licensing route?

    This is not the ‘Big Pharma’ conspiracy theory that so many waste so much energy on.

    Big Pharma is the likes of Pfizer with annual revenues of $50 billion. GW has annual revenues of £30 million and has spent 10 years in extremely high risk, speculative investment which could have all gone horribly wrong. In the process it has become the pre-eminent centre of expertise in cannabinoid medicine in the world.

    We should be congratulating GW Pharma. It has jumped through all the hoops and proved cannabis to be an effective medicine for paediatric epilepsy.

    • Lawrence Goodwin

      March 19, 2016 at 8:03 am

      Jolly good points, Peter Reynolds. I personally do salute the dedication of everyone at GW Pharma for taking that risk in the very noble effort to stop so many kids from having horrible seizures. Dr. Sanjay Gupta did fully inform us about GW Pharma’s work in his “Weed” series on CNN. More than anything else, GW Pharma proves with Epidiolex that the U.S. federal government has been outright lying to its own citizens and the world for 45 years by classifying “marihuana” (seedless, female cannabis flowers) as a Schedule I substance with “no currently accepted medical use.” I certainly hope this leads to major changes in that policy and fast. Let us remember the noble work, too, of Dr. William B. O’Shaughnessy, the Irish doctor who “introduced” cannabis to western medicine in the mid-1800s. He was the first inquisitive physician to successfully use cannabis for the treatment of seizures in infants. “The problem,” as you say, is that so many doctors on both sides of the Atlantic apparently forgot about O’Shaughnessy’s efforts, while allowing themselves to be as corrupted by Big Pharma’s largesse as the politicians enforcing this anti-“marihuana” tyranny for so long.

    • Loren Wiener

      March 21, 2016 at 5:42 am

      Depends on your perspective, if working in parallel to the Cannabis industry world, it is debatable. But in an either or world (as we have in Australia) then GW (distributed by Bayer in the USA and Novartis part of a $100B pharma in Australia, it is a huge problem as there is no Cannabis lobby in Australia. They perhaps did not choose to be an either or situation, but pharma like GW gets new customers and cannabis gets new criminals. Additionally the government per above (this week in 2 bills) is even changing the definition of the word Cannabis so it can include hemp, marijuana and pharma. Also there have been 2 deaths during Epidiolex trials in Houston.

    • Lynn-no-duh

      March 24, 2016 at 12:02 pm

      a $42.5 million corporation that is working with BAYER, is hardly a “tiny,” business, nor are they humanitarian philanthropists as you would have us believe, Peter.

      People should have unrestricted access to this non-toxic miraculous plant. The chemical makeup of this plant should not be something that gets patented for the profits of a select few, at the expense of those with medical maladies.

      Sorry, but Israel remains the pre-eminent center of expertise in cannabinoid medicine in the world.

  9. Lawrence Goodwin

    March 18, 2016 at 7:39 pm

    The proposed Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States Act, cosponsored by a growing, bipartisan group of U.S. Senators, must be passed with NO FURTHER DELAY. The federal Schedule I classification of “marihuana” has been rooted in lies from Day 1. At the least, moving that deceptive word to Schedule II via the CARERS Act will result in an explosion of new domestic cannabis research that proves just how heartless federal bureaucrats in the DEA truly are. Please overwhelm the phone lines of arrogant Iowa Republic Senator Charles Grassley, chairman of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee—the man who is single-handedly blocking progress on that compassionate legislation with absolutely NO regard for the pain and suffering he causes nationwide by doing so. Grassley’s number in his Des Moines, IA office is 515-288-5097 and his D.C. office is 202-224-6020. Please demand Grassley’s fairness toward qualified cannabis patients everywhere (and it’s simply NOT the business of politicians to determine who does qualify).

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