Cannabis Drug Has Successfully Treated Epilepsy

An experimental cannabis drug, Epidiolex, has been successful in treating children with a form of childhood epilepsy according to the results of a much-awaited clinical trial. This has gone on to double the value of shares of its makers GW Pharmaceuticals, much to the cheer of investors. Experts and drug analysts opined that this could propel the experimental drug’s sales to over $1 billion.

Cannabis Drug – Success in Trials

Cannabis Drug - Success in Trials
UK’s GW Pharmaceuticals is nearly on its way to getting FDA’s approval for a cannabis drug Epidiolex which passed the phase 3 clinical trial to prove its ability to treat children with a rare form of epilepsy. About 120 children with Dravet Syndrome, a congenital disorder, took part in the trial. This is the first trial out of the six that are planned or ongoing. The children were aged about 10 years.

The patients were also those that experienced an average frequency of 13 seizures in a month when the study started. Half of the recruits were randomly assigned to receive the cannabis drug Epidiolex, whereas the others received a placebo. At the end of the study period, the group that took Epidiolex had a median 39% reduction in the number of seizures experienced in a month’s time. The group that received the placebo had only a 13% reduction in the seizure numbers. According to the researchers, this result has high significance statistically.

Currently, there are two prescription cannabis drugs based on THC, the main active ingredient in cannabis. However, Epidiolex is the first ever drug that has been made with cannabidiol, the plant’s second main active ingredient. It is interesting to note that there is yet another drug for multiple sclerosis, a creation of GW Pharmaceuticals, which carries a combination of THC and cannabidiol. This drug is not yet available in the United States.

Dravet Syndrome is a difficult-to-treat epilepsy condition. According to Dr. Orrin Devinsky, the success of the cannabis drug in the phase 3 trial reflects the efficacy and safety of pharmaceutical cannabidiol on children with the condition.

Some of the mild side effects experienced by the children in the trials were drowsiness, diarrhea, and reduced appetite. About ten patients experienced severe side effects and 8 stopped the treatment altogether. In the placebo group, only 1 patient discontinued with the treatment. About 84 percent of the patients that experienced side effects rated them as mild or moderate.

Prospects for GW Pharmaceuticals

With positive results that came of the phase 3 clinical trial of Epidiolex, the share prices of GW Pharmaceuticals more than doubled. In intraday trading, the company’s stock went up by 139 percent. The cannabis drug is predicted to generate sales of over $1.1 billion by the end of the decade for the company.

This study of the cannabis drug is the first one of the four phase 3 trials that was slated to take place. The results are expected this year and will confirm the healing benefits of the cannabidiol, derived from marijuana. Justin Gover, CEO of GW Pharmaceuticals, said that the company is excited about the prospects of Epidiolex becoming the first ever FDA-approved drug for the treatment of Dravet Syndrome in children. In this connection, the company officials are also planning a meeting with US FDA to discuss methods of seeking regulatory approval for the cannabis drug.

Interestingly, Epidiolex, the cannabis drug that is administered as syrup to children, is being additionally tested in phase 3 trials for yet another rare form of epilepsy, Lennox Gastaut Syndrome. The results are expected this year. The drug is due to be tested for its use in tuberous sclerosis complex, another indication in epilepsy. In the meanwhile, the company has also been scaling production capability of the cannabis drug in the light of the new developments.

According to GW, as many as 30 percent of child epilepsy patients are not helped by using the epilepsy medicines that are currently available in the market. They are dependent on the marijuana extracts that are sold by medical marijuana dispensaries. Company sources also said that hundreds of patients, both children and younger adults, have been using the cannabis drug Epidiolex under specific programs (outside trials) which allow them to have the drug.

Maryland Bill To Decriminalize Possession Of Small Amounts Of Drugs

As the number of deaths from the overdose of drugs is increasing throughout the nation, the Maryland Delegate Dan Morhaim – a practicing physician has introduced four separate bills to completely alter the drug policy in Maryland. The fourth bill, the Maryland House Bill 1119, decriminalizes the use and possession of extremely small amounts of drugs. Instead of reducing the use of drugs, criminalizing the users of drugs increases the stigma, amplifies the risks of overdose of drugs, and drives the users away from the required treatment and harm reducing services. The main aim of the bill is to keep the drugs users possessing minimal amounts of drugs out of the system of criminal justice and save critical resources and expenses involved in saddling more citizens involved in drugs related crime. The country, which initiated the law for eliminating penalties for the low-level possession of illegal drugs, was Portugal in 2001.

Clauses of the Bill

In addition to limiting the penalties for the possession and the use of de minimis amounts of drugs, the bill aims at penalizing the people involved in possessing, using less than 10 grams of marijuana drugs, or using, possessing the de minimis amount of a controlled dangerous substance. The bill aims to explain the provisions for the issuance of citations to the users possessing or using less than 10 grams of marijuana drugs or using and possessing the de minimis amount of controlled dangerous substance specified. The definitions of the de minimis amounts in the bill are:

  • 10 grams of marijuana
  • 2 grams of cocaine
  • 1 gram of heroin
  • 10 tablets of MDMA
  • 0015 grams of LSD
  • 1 gram of methadone
  • 1 gram of amphetamine

According to the clauses in the bill, the person possessing or using marijuana drugs cannot be fined for more than $1000 or imprisoned for more than a year or both. If the user is a first time user , and is caught possessing or using the de minimis amount , then he cannot be fined for more than $100 and if it is the second time , he cannot be fined more than $250 and if it is the third violation , then he cannot be fined for more than $500.

About Dan Morhaim

Dan Morhaim has been an active member of the Maryland House of Delegates since the beginning of 1994. He serves as a Deputy Majority Leader in the House of Delegates. He is a certified physician who has been in practice for more than 30 years. He has always been in the front line, always treating patients in the internal and emergency medicine. He is an important part of the faculty at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and at University of Maryland Medical School. He has written numerous medical journals and books.

About Dan Morhaim

Prerequisites to fines

Some conditions are imposed alongside the fines. If a person below 21 or 21 is caught committing a violation which is punishable under the subparagraph 1,2 and 3 of this subparagraph, he shall be ordered to visit a drug education center that has been approved by the Department of Health and Dental Hygiene. He will undergo an assessment or test for substance abuse disorder and will undergo treatment if required. If a user is caught smoking marijuana in a public place, he is not to be fined more than $500. If a police officer cites a person possessing the de minimis quantity of the drug, then the citation will have to include the address and the name of the person charged, the time and date when the violation was committed, the value of the fine that is liable to be imposed, and a notice stating the allowance of the prepayment of the fine has to be issued. If a person who is under 21is caught, he will be called for trial. However, if a person is below 18, he will be subject to the Title 3, Subtitle 8A of the Courts Article.

MDMA: One Of The Most Popular Drugs

One of the most popular drugs on today’s market, MDMA, had a much humbler beginning and has seen many ups and downs in its lifetime. It was first synthesized by Anton Kollisch and as with many other drugs; its discovery was a complete accident. The patent for MDMA was used and researched on and off during the coming years, both for medical and non-medical purposes. It wasn’t until 1976 that it was counted among recreational drugs, after research conducted by a chemist Alexander Shulgin, who was later promptly known as the “Father of MDMA.”mdma

The use of MDMA has first spread among drugs used by psychotherapists and was well known for its empathogenic properties, which was also the reason that it started raising its popularity amongst the recreational drugs. The late 80’s were the breaking point for the use of MDMA drugs compared to other recreational drugs. It was at this point that British community started creating parties that were made to enhance the effects of MDMA drugs, featuring strong light and sound stimulants together with a kind of music, specially made for such occasions.

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In today’s culture drugs and mainly MDMA is tightly connected to raves and EDM festivals and as some researchers suggest as much as 70% of festival goers are known to take MDMA drugs or some other stimulants. The reason to why MDMA drugs are so popular can be traced to its effects and use. MDMA’s main effect is that it causes increased happiness or euphoria coupled with stronger sensual perception. All of these effects are reported to increase the appreciation of music and user’s surroundings. Since parties and festivals are large social events, an increase sense of mutual bond and understanding with other people is often visible after MDMA use. The downside of MDMA drugs is in the fact that since it increases the user’s feeling of connection to others it can sometimes cause involuntary and unwanted emotional display. Of the more common physical side-effects are dehydration and jaw-clenching, in which drinking plenty of water and chewing gum is often used as a counter-measure. The long term side-effects differentiate in duration and strength in each user, but in most cases an increased effect of MDMA drugs is reported after a long-time use. There is also the possibility of increased feeling of fatigue the day after MDMA drugs use, which can last even longer in cases of regular intake or mixing with other drugs.

MDMA Drugs

The main problem that is faced with MDMA drugs intake is the inability to determine its purity without a testing kit and even when using a kit, one cannot be 100% sure if the substance has been mixed with other drugs. This is the cause of many overdoses and poisonings from “street” MDMA, since mixed MDMA has a different strength form the pure one.

MDMA drugs are generally considered to be one of the most used recreational drugs and since its first use as such it has had either a steady growth or stagnation in overall popularity. This can be contributed to the shift towards electronic music in the later years, which is tightly connected to MDMA and its culture. Whichever the case may be it seems that MDMA is just going to become more popular and available compared to other drugs as the time goes by.

Some Interesting Facts You Didn’t Know About Drugs

While drugs and their use is generally looked down upon, due to many cases of misuse and abuse, if one looks into it more deeply there are some interesting stories and facts to be learned. Many of today’s recreational drugs were not invented for their current purpose and many of them were discovered by pure accident to begin with. It was only after time that they became outlawed and in the beginning many of them were commercially sold, mostly as prescribed medication.

LSDProbably one of the most famous discoveries related to drugs dates back to 1943, when Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann, while working on a way to prevent hemorrhaging in childbirth, accidentally got exposed to a small dose of Lysergic acid diethylamide more commonly known as LSD. At that time Hofmann had no experience in recreational use of drugs and was astounded by the distortion of reality that occurred after LSD intake, which made him perform an experiment on himself. As later reported he ingested 200 micrograms of LSD on 19th April, after determining it to be the safety threshold. The experience was too strong for him and he had his assistant follow him home. Thanks to the WWII prohibition, there were no cars and Hofmann rode his bicycle home all the while being under the influence of the LSD. After he was assured by his physician at home that he was not fatally poisoned, Hofmann proceeded to enjoy his “trip,” which was later described in his book “LSD: My Problem Child.” After that 19th April became known as the “bicycle day” and is still commemorated by some even today.

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Another LSD-related experiment was performed 1962, which did not have such a “happy” ending, mainly due to questionable scientific legitimacy of the method used and the people performing the experiment. As it stands, three men from the University of Oklahoma, led by Louis Jolyon West decided to test the effect of drugs, by experiment on a 7000 pound elephant and injecting him with 297 milligrams of LSD. The elephant went into a seizure and after an hour and a half of trying to resuscitate him, it died. Later, there was a debate whether LSD overdose was the cause of death, or was it due to drugs administered in the attempt to save the elephants life, but the results were never conclusive. As a reference, at a dose prescribed for humans of 0.003 mg/kg, a dose of about 9 milligrams should have been sufficient, but due to belief of “researchers” that the elephant will have a resistance to drugs they decided to increase the dose 30 times. Later research showed that elephants are actually very sensitive to drugs relative to their size and that even lower amounts would provide measurable results.

However, not all animals react to LSD in a bad manner, as shown by an experiment conducted by Peter N. Witt and later confirmed by NASA. In this experiment several spiders were given different drugs including LSD, caffeine and sleeping pills and their web-spinning capabilities observed. All the drugs administer had a negative effect on the spider’s ability to spin web, except small doses of LSD which actually enhanced it. The experiment was conducted in an attempt to measure the toxicity of drugs based on spider’s performance, but the results were inconclusive in both cases.

Spider Web

LSD is not the only among the great variety of drugs that was experimented with in the earlier years. As stated before, many illicit drugs started their lives as prescription medication. There are reports that Nazi scientists created a cocktail of cocaine, methamphetamine and oxycodone that could make their soldiers march for over 88 kilometers, carrying heavy equipment, without feeling any fatigue. These drugs were never tested on the field as the war has ended before final experiments were finished.

Another instance of today’s illicit drugs being used as medication was in the case of Heroin. In 1898, during a huge tuberculosis outbreak, people were desperately looking for a cough medicine and company called “Bayer,” which was later responsible for Aspirin, marketed Heroin as a safer alternative to Morphine. It was only later that they discovered the severe negative effects that Heroine had on the body as well as its incredibly high addictiveness, which made the company withdraw Heroine as a medicine after a few months.

While many of these stories related to drugs are in case of scientific experimentation in one way or another there are those that have nothing to do with science and have everything to do with plain going-over-the-top. One such story dates back to 1980 and the set of the Blues Brothers movie. According to reports among other things that were covered by the movie’s budget, there was part of it set apart for cocaine. Apparently, somebody decided that the cast and people on the set will function better if they have access to small doses of cocaine. This was the reason that caused one of the stars of the movie, John Belushi to develop a crippling addiction to cocaine, which ultimately led to his death.

The international cannabis day eventProbably the most wide-spread among drugs and the cause of many disputes, Marijuana is especially known for going-over-the-top stories. The international cannabis day, the 20th of April is particularly known to create such stories. There were several reports of people creating the biggest joint in the world, but such cases are rarely well documented. On 20th April in 2013 however, one of the people at Hyde Park was arrested for having a 2 pound-marijuana-joint in his possession. This is the largest documented joint ever created and it is estimated that its worth was around $6000. Its owner was promptly arrested and the joint was confiscated at a great dissatisfaction of nearby onlookers who were lured in by the commotion.

It is important to note that most of these stories date a number of years in the past when the social stigma on drugs was not as strong or the drugs in question was not even invented. The ignorance of people towards the effect of a substance or scientific curiosity was the main cause for drugs being used at first, which had a strong effect on the society, as seen during the “hippie era” and has shaped several generations. Even if it is frowned upon today, the importance of drugs in shaping the history of human society can hardly be overlooked as an important overall factor.