Cannabidiol and epilepsy in Wyoming
On March 3, 2015, Governor Mead signed into law "Hemp Extract Regulation." Under this law people with "intractable epilepsy or other seizure disorders" who are under the care of a neurologist may be eligible to use legally a certain type of marijuana product referred to as Charlotte's Web (CW). CW is an oil produced from hemp which has relatively high concentrations of cannabidiol, which is an analogue of a neurotransmitter in our brains, and very low concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the stuff that gets you high. CW is only available from a single producer in Colorado and there are thousands of people on waiting lists to get the compound. The reason for its popularity is an expose by CNN's Sanjay Gupta, MD done a couple of years ago which shared some amazing stories about kids with a devestating epileptic condition called Dravet syndrome who seemed to get better quickly after consuming various amounts of CW. It is important to understand that these stories are very different from scientific studies or clinical trials. There are no control subjects and there has not been an organized effort to measure the risks and benefits of the compound. Because of this distinction it is important to know that CW is not a drug or medicine. It is an herbal remedy with potentially exciting benefits. As our federal government moves inexorably toward a more rational position in how the categorize marijuana, I am very confident that compounds like CW will be carefully studied and new drugs will begin to emerge. In the meantime, it seems to many people in Wyoming unfair to deny access to CW to people who could really benefit from it. To that end our legislators have taken action that was supported by me and buy the Wyoming Medical Society to make CW available under strict criteria to people who may benefit from using it. To get access to CW patients will need to be under the care of a neurologist and the neurologist will need to sign a statement indicating the patient might benefit from CW. If approved the patient or their parent will receive a card which will authorize possession of CW in Wyoming. After that, an application to the distributor of CW could be made. Interestingly, the family that manufactures and sells CW has decided that all of their customers must participate in a national database that will help track responses to CW. This is a new phenomenon representing to what is practically a clinical trial through crowd sourcing or social media. I don' think this has ever happened before and it MIGHT open up new and better avenues to getting medicines into the hands of people who need them perhaps at MUCH lower prices. I consider this a very exciting development. So, stay tuned for updates as we wait for the Wyoming Department of Health to finalize the rules and funding to establish the new process for prescribing CW to people with severe and refractory epilepsy.