Smokable forms of cannabis is never likely to receive the approval of the United States Food and Drug Administration. That was what FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb suggested in a recent interview with Bloomberg News.
According to Gottlieb, the chances of the FDA every approving smokable marijuana were slim to none. He explained that the agency is apprehensive about giving its approval to a supposed medicine that is consumed through combustible means.
Gottlieb likened the act of smoking pot to crushing up a prescription medicine and smoking it. He contended that using the lungs as entry point for a drug is not optimal.
Gottlieb pointed out that he prescribed blood pressure pills, as well as all kinds of other treatments, to his patients back when he was still a practicing physician. However, he said that he has never advised patients to go home, crush a pill, roll it in paper, and then smoke it.
This does not necessarily mean that the agency does not believe cannabis could have therapeutic benefits in some cases. Gottlieb clarified that it is more about having reservations about smoking as an effective method of delivering an active ingredient to the body.
Gottlieb also explained that this does not mean the FDA would not evaluate smokable cannabis if it came in.
Weed smokers should not lose hope
If, in the next few years, cannabis finds itself legal nationwide, this does not mean that smoking it would be prohibited. The FDA would just probably not have a hand in it. Most probably, the regulations that govern smokable forms of marijuana would fall under the jurisdiction of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. The bureau’s name would likely be tweaked in order to reflect its authority over the cannabis trade.
It is also possible that both agencies would work hand in hand in the matter. Some cannabis products may be regulated by the FDA while other forms would fall under the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.
FDA expected to approve cannabis-derived medication very soon
Right now, the FDA is set to give a new cannabis-derived drug called Epidiolex its stamp of approval. Once it does, the drug’s UK-based manufacturer, GW Pharmaceuticals PLC will have the right to bring Epidiolex to the American market.
This strawberry-flavored cannabidiol (CBD) solution has been shown to lessen the frequency of seizures in epileptic patients. The prescription medication is administered orally.
If everything goes well, GW Pharmaceuticals would be the first-ever in the United States to be granted FDA approval for a drug that is entirely derived from the cannabis plant.
Recently, an FDA advisory panel recommended that the agency approve Epidiolex. Members of the panel unanimously agreed that its benefits outweigh its risks when treating certain forms of childhood epilepsy.
CBD is the most commonly accepted medical cannabis compound, particularly in the treatment for epileptic seizures. In fact, the United Nation’s World Health Organization had released a report last year that concluded that CBD may have “therapeutic value” and that it “exhibits no effects that are indicative of any potential for abuse or dependence.”
It is expected that the FDA will make its decision on whether to approve Epidiolex for public use by the end of this month.