It’s been suggested that, if somehow history changed so aspirin was not discovered until today, its inventors would find it extremely difficult—perhaps impossible—to obtain federal approval for the medicine, even on a “prescription only” basis.
Those individuals and businesses supporting research into the therapeutic potential of cannabis/cannabinoids can relate. Due to onerous and—what many feel are woefully outdated—federal restrictions on marijuana use, clinical research has for decades been severely hobbled.
That’s changing, albeit slowly. In December 2015, the American Epilepsy Society published results of the largest study so far of the cannabis derivative cannabidiol (CBD).
This study included 313 epileptic children, of which 261 completed the 3-month trial period. On average, the number of convulsive seizures decreased by approximately 50%. Even after the trial ended, a significant portion (9%) of the patient sample was entirely free of seizures, a condition unprecedented in many of the children.
These are tantalizing results, especially to parents in the throes of determining the best treatment options for their children. But in order to confirm that cannabidiol (as with any treatment) does indeed work requires stringent placebo-controlled clinical trials, backed with substantiating evidence on the exact chemical and physiological process involved.
However, such research can take years, and many parents in Canada and the U.S. have had to carefully consider the risks and benefits of adding high-CBD cannabis extracts to their child’s treatment regime, with some opting to do so, despite a lack of significant clinical evidence. This must be an extremely hard decision for a parent to make, but perhaps even more difficult would be to do nothing while your child suffers through seizure after seizure from disorders that sometimes prove fatal.
In light of the data revealed by this recent study, it’s clear that that clinical trials need to be undertaken immediately.