In the medical marijuana community there has been a growing body of anecdotal evidence to support the claim that medical marijuana can help treat seizures, but due to U.S. drug laws there is a dearth of medical research to back up these claims.
However, a recent study seems to back up claims made by parents and patients that medical marijuana could help intractable seizures.
Reviewing information from several clinical trials involving cannabinoids, doctors Daniel Friedman and Orrin Devinsky found that while there is no definitive evidence that cannabinoids are effective in treating epilepsy, there is certainly promise.
“When you look at the combined weight of the animal data, it appears that cannabidiol appears to have the most consistent anti-seizure effect,” Friedman explained to HealthDay.
In an additional study referenced by HealthDay, researchers found that the drug Epidiolex, a drug comprised of 99 percent cannabidiol, reduced seizures by approximately 50 percent in two out every five patients. Another study presented at the American Academy of Neurology in Washington, D.C., found that Epidiolex eliminated seizures by 50 percent in 137 out of 213 patients studied.
However, the authors have pointed out that current U.S. drug laws are a major stumbling block to further understanding of the relationship between cannabidiol and seizures. Marijuana is still considered a Schedule I drug, which means it has no “accepted medical use.”
The Schedule I status makes it incredibly difficult for scientists and researchers to acquire marijuana and run the large scale studies that would be required in order to find a definitive and scientific link between marijuana and seizure prevention, as well as other the prevention of other medical conditions. Indeed, one of the biggest complaints of marijuana supporters is that the only marijuana studies the government allows are those that seem intent on proving the ill-effects of marijuana.
Nevertheless, many in the medical community have come out in support of the use and research of medical marijuana in the treatment of seizures, including the Epilepsy Foundation, which released this statement on its website:
The Epilepsy Foundation is committed to supporting physician directed care, and to exploring and advocating for all potential treatment options for epilepsy, including cannabidiol (CBD) oil and medical cannabis.
The statement goes on to say that the Epilepsy Foundation would support legislation that allows those suffering from seizures to access medical marijuana.
On a national level, Congress has been slow to act on legislation that would expand medical marijuana access to seizure patients; on a local level, states have been much more willing to act. There are currently 15 states with CBD-only laws on the books and most medical marijuana states now cover intractable seizures as a qualifying condition.