WASHINGTON | Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Judiciary Committee and the Caucus on International Narcotics Control, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, co-chairman of the Caucus on International Narcotics Control and a member of the Judiciary Committee, today asked the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice for an update on their scientific and medical evaluation of cannabidiol.
The agencies agreed to conduct the review at the request of Grassley and Feinstein.
“Given that many individuals suffer from serious medical conditions that may be alleviated by cannabidiol, it is critical that this evaluation be completed expeditiously,” Grassley and Feinstein wrote to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell. “We appreciate the steps your Department has already taken to reduce barriers to researching cannabidiol.”
Grassley and Feinstein asked for an update on the status of the evaluation and its expected date of completion.
The evaluation will determine whether there is a scientific basis to change the legal schedule of cannabidiol separate from marijuana. Parents of children with severe epilepsy are interested in the safety and effectiveness of cannabidiol. The federal government has eased certain barriers to research at the urging of Grassley and Feinstein.
Grassley and Feinstein earlier wrote to the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services, asking them to address concerns about barriers to marijuana research and to conduct a scientific and medical analysis of cannabidiol to determine whether it should be scheduled separately from the plant itself. In a letter to Grassley and Feinstein, the agencies agreed to conduct the scientific and medical analysis they had requested.
On June 24, 2015, Grassley and Feinstein conducted a hearing in the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control to explore the potential medical benefits of cannabidiol and the barriers to research. On June 22, 2015, just days before the hearing, HHS published a notice in the federal register announcing that that it was eliminating the Public Health Service review for non-federally funded marijuana studies, which many had viewed as unneeded and a hindrance to cannabidiol research.
On December 23, 2015, the Drug Enforcement Administration announced that it agreed to a third request of Grassley and Feinstein’s – to ease some of the regulatory requirements for those who are conducting FDA-approved clinical trials on cannabidiol by permitting waivers that will let research proceed seamlessly if the researcher requires more cannabidiol than was initially approved by the DEA.
In addition, a cannabidiol-based medicine intended to treat some forms of pediatric epilepsy called Epidiolex is currently undergoing FDA-approved clinical trials, including involving some patients in Iowa. Grassley and Feinstein support speeding up and expanding the number of patients involved in this research as much as possible.