Two cannabis-based medicines for patients with severe epilepsy or multiple sclerosis have been approved for use by the NHS. The UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) issued guidelines recommending that the two medicines receive reimbursement by NHS England. Doctors will be allowed to prescribe Epidyolex for patients over two years old suffering from severe forms of treatment-resistant epilepsy.
The medicine is used to treat severe seizures for people with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome – rare forms of epilepsy. Epidyolex is cannabidiol (CBD) based, making it similar to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), but nonpsychoactive, according to the World Health Organization, which also said in a report that CBD did not have “dependence potential”. CBD is the second most prevalent ingredient in marijuana but is derived from hemp, a cousin of marijuana. By itself, it does not cause a user to become high, according to Harvard Medical School’s Peter Grinspoon, M.D.