Governor signs bill approving first medicine made from marijuana

Assemblyman Jim Wood’s measure follows federal approval of drug containing cannabidiol, but the medicine still needs DEA action before it can be prescribed.|

Assemblyman Jim Wood’s bill allowing Californians to use the first federally approved medicine made from marijuana was signed into law Monday by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Wood, a Santa Rosa Democrat who chairs the Assembly Health Committee, authored the bill that allows California physicians to prescribe a drug called Epidiolex for treatment of two rare and severe childhood-onset epilepsies.

The drug, produced by GW Pharmaceuticals, is the first approved medicine that “contains a purified drug substance derived from marijuana,” the Food and Drug Administration said in a statement announcing its approval last month. It contains cannabidiol (CBD), a component of marijuana that delivers no mind-altering effects.

Before Epidiolex can be prescribed, it must be removed from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s list of Schedule 1 controlled substances, which Wood expects to happen by late September. Wood’s bill makes it legal under California law.

The two childhood disorders - Lennox-Gestaut and Dravet syndromes - afflict fewer than 45,000 Americans, but GW Pharmaceuticals expects Epidiolex will be used for other types of epilepsy.

- Guy Kovner

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