It’s one of those headlines that doesn’t scream out at you and demand attention. And yet the announcement last week from the British government’s health regulator that a compound in cannabis is medicine will have a ripple effect sure to hit American shores.
The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency ruled that CBD has a “restoring, correcting or modifying” effect on “physiological functions.”
CBD, or cannabidiol, is the ingredient in marijuana that provides many of the plant’s therapeutic effects. It is non-psychoactive, unlike THC.
The MHRA said it decided to act on the issue because some companies were making “overt medicinal claims” about the efficacy of cannabis products. Its decision to classify these products as medicine means manufacturers must now prove CBD products meet safety standards.
Like its American regulatory counterparts, the UK’s decision puts agencies in a bind. On the one hand, it is clear from the science that cannabis has medicinal value, And yet the herb is not recognized by statute as having therapeutic value. In fact, citizens using cannabis, even for medical reasons, could be charged and arrested with possession.
In last week’s statement. the MHRA said:
“We have come to the opinion that products containing cannabidiol (CBD) are a medicine. Products for therapeutic use must have a medicines’ licence before they can be legally sold, supplied or advertised in the UK. Products will have to meet safety, quality and effectiveness standards to protect public health.”
What does this mean for the U.S.?
As more nations rule in favor of cannabis treatment as viable medicine, it puts U.S. regulatory bodies in a scientific bind. And as more companies produce medicine that is proven to be effective, how can a government prevent citizens from buying it?
GW Pharmaceuticals, a UK pharmaceutical giant, has concluded a Phase 3 clinical trial demonstrating the efficacy of CBD. The company is awaiting a ruling from U.S. regulators.
Highway is an essential source for cannabis science, how-to stories and demystifying marijuana. Want to read more? Thy these posts: One Man’s Journey In Pursuit Of The Truth Behind Marijuana Prohibition, Marijuana Myth Busting: Does Holding In Smoke Get You Higher? and A Drag Queen’s Visit To The Cannabis Store.