New marijuana-based medicine to be legal in Missouri

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JEFFERSON CITY - A new FDA-approved, marijuana-based drug for children with epilepsy went onto the market in 45 states Monday and it will be legal in Missouri on Nov. 4.

Epidiolex is used to treat severe cases of Dravet Syndrome and Lennex-Gastaut syndrome in children 2 years or older. It uses cannabidiol (CBD), one of the main chemical components of the marijuana plant. Epidiolex is the first FDA-approved drug to contain a purified extract from the marijuana plant.

CBD does not cause the "high" often associated with marijuana. That is caused by THC. Darla Templeton, the CEO of Epilepsy Foundation of Missouri and Kansas, said Epidiolex has been successful in testing.

"The CBD oil for children with intractable seizures has been effective for one third of those children and sometimes making dramatic changes in the number of seizures per day," Templeton said.

Templeton said Epidiolex will help thousands of children in Missouri.

"When you look at 18,000 children in the state of Missouri with intractable seizures, if 6,000 of those can be helped, that's pretty significant and that will make a real impact," she said.

Dravet Syndrome and Lennex-Gastaut Syndrome are characterized by frequent, prolonged seizures that can delay development. Templeton said the newly-approved medicine will make a difference for children who can experience 100 seizures a day - or more.

"The children that are experiencing that many seizures and then have it dramatically change, from a hundred a day to two a month, can grow developmentally and cognitively," she said.

On Sept. 27, the DEA reclassified CBD as a Schedule V drug, the lowest in the Controlled Substances Act. THC remains a Schedule I drug, the highest.

"DEA will continue to support sound and scientific research that promotes legitimate therapeutic uses for FDA-approved constituent components of cannabis, consistent with federal law," Acting DEA Administrator Uttam Dhillon said in a release.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services had to pass an emergency rule to allow the legalization of CBD in Missouri for medical purposes, which is causing the delay.

"Missouri must update rules similar to the DEA updating rules so that Missouri doctors, pharmacists and law enforcement personnel can correctly identify the schedule listing and corresponding legality of each substance," the department told KOMU in a statement. "The emergency rule process was used in this case to decrease the length of time from rule creation to patient access to the drug."

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