Medical Marijuana Debate: FDA decision may influence Tennessee


The Food and Drug Administration on Monday announced a decision that proponents call a first step in legalizing medical cannabis.

The agency approved a new prescription drug made from marijuana to treat two rare forms of epilepsy that begin in childhood.

The FDA’s decision comes just over two months after a controversial medical marijuana bill failed.

“I think this really starts to validate what we’ve all believed to be true for the past years,” said Senator Steven Dickerson, R-Nashville.

The belief — that active ingredients in marijuana can lead to medical therapy.

Based on research, the FDA said the new drug, called Epidolex, reduces seizures when combined with older epilepsy drugs.

Anesthesiologist and Senator Steve Dickerson of Nashville co-sponsored a state bill to legalize medical cannabis to some patients.

But Dickerson withdrew the bill, claiming it had become so watered down, it might end up hurting patients.

Dickerson said he plan to re-introduce the bill in a few weeks, so the FDA’s decision could sway some votes.

“I thought in 2018, we were within one or two votes, before getting a patient-centric bill passed,” said Dickerson. “This announcement by the FDA, could be all the influence I need to turn one or two votes from no’s to yeses. This makes me more optimistic that in 2019, we’ll see meaningful movement of medical cannabis in Tennessee.”

Critics worry the FDA’s announcement opens the door for unapproved CBD drug products in the market.

Dickerson shared that concern, saying some patients access CBD products in the gray market.

The FDA stated it will continue to take action against such products.

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