Medical cannabis in the US has become a ‘major game changer,’ according to a group of healthcare professionals.
The New York Times reported that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved medicinal cannabis as an over-the-counter drug for pain, nausea and vomiting, and as a treatment for seizures, post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain.
Dr. Daniel A. Sussman, an associate professor of medicine at Yale School of Medicine and director of the Yale Center for the Study of Medical Cannabis, said that the medical cannabis program is being implemented “as quickly as possible.”
“We need to get this program on the ground and get it moving,” he said.
The new program was approved by the FDA on January 19, 2019, and the agency said it would issue an advisory to medical cannabis companies about how to comply with the new rules.
The approval came just days after the DEA approved the first batch of recreational cannabis, which can be consumed at dispensaries across the country.
According to a DEA press release, “the Administration expects that medical cannabis producers, processors, manufacturers and distributors will continue to operate as normal.”
The agency did not offer a timeline for when medical cannabis would be available for purchase in the United States.
Sussman said the DEA’s guidance should help cannabis companies prepare for the coming months.
“We hope this will give the industry time to prepare for what we anticipate will be a long, busy period,” he told Next Big Futures.
“This guidance will help companies better understand their compliance with the regulations.”
Sussmann noted that the new regulations do not apply to manufacturers who are licensed to cultivate medical cannabis.
“The guidance will allow the industry to plan for those things that are more difficult to get around, and we anticipate that that will make it easier for the industry and for patients,” he added.
The United States currently has no laws for medical cannabis, although some states have passed laws allowing it to be used to treat a range of conditions.
A number of states, including New York, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Washington, have legalized medical cannabis for non-cancer pain, while medical cannabis patients in Colorado can use cannabis oil to treat nausea and other symptoms of epilepsy.
According the National Cannabis Industry Association, the industry generates $7.5 billion in sales and employs nearly 300,000 Americans.