In ‘This Week in Cannabis’ we want to help you uncover leading cannabis news, industry insights, scientific discoveries and more. Our hope is to help educate the greater public on the many uphill battles we still need to achieve prior to legalization. There are still a lot of laws, regulations and problems that cannabis companies and consumers are faced with.

This Week in Cannabis: April 12th-April 18th, 2020

Between the tragic passing of Charlotte Figi and ever-present FDA harassment, life has been tough for the cannabis industry this past week. 

Odds are you’re still under a shelter-in-place order yourself if you’re reading this the week it was published. So maybe, to some extent, you can relate? Either way, here’s this week’s recap of the good, the sad, and the ugly.

Charlotte Figi, a Light for the CBD Movement, Passes Away

We’re sad to relay the tragic news that Charlotte Figi passed away on Tuesday, April 7th, possibly from COVID-19-related complications. She was only 13. For those unfamiliar with Charlotte, here’s some backstory… 

In 2013 Dr. Sanjay Gupta released a documentary called “Weed.” At the time it was revolutionary, as Dr. Gupta was one of the first high-profile medical professionals to say anything positive about cannabis. His documentary also highlighted the benefits of a then-unheard-of cannabis compound called CBD—especially its beneficial impacts on epilepsy. 

Millions of viewers tuned in to watch CBD transforming the life of a young epileptic girl named Charlotte Figi. Suddenly a movement was born, as Charlotte’s results inspired parents from across the U.S. to give CBD-rich cannabis to their children. This movement evolved and blossomed into what we’re now experiencing: A worldwide interest in hemp and CBD. 

In the words of the CBD company named after her, Charlotte’s Web, “what began as her story, became the shared story of hundreds of thousands, and the inspiration of many millions more in the journey of their betterment.” We’re thinking of you and your family, Charlotte.

CBD vs. Coronavirus…vs. the FDA

Always up for stifling CBD’s popularity (the popularity of non-pharmaceutical CBD at least!), FDA officials have redirected their focus and are now going after CBD companies that make coronavirus-related health claims. 

Per an official statement from the Department of Justice, “individuals and businesses selling fake cures for COVID-19 online and engaging in other forms of fraud” are being targeted. So far, three CBD companies have received warning letters for theorizing that CBD’s anti-viral and/or anti-inflammatory effects may reduce the risks of coronavirus. 

Hemp Companies Rally to Make Essential Goods

Cannabis and hemp companies are continuing their efforts against the virus, working hard to produce hand sanitizer and donating available protective equipment en masse. “We have a lot of companies that are very patriotic and want to do what they can to support the effort,” U.S. Hemp Roundtable attorney Jonathan Miller told Hemp Industry Daily

Supporting the effort, indeed. One company is making a hemp-based hand sanitizer for healthcare workers and homeless populations; another is donating $10,000 worth of CBD to overworked healthcare workers interested in using it to destress.

Pharmaceutical CBD Is Now Fully Legal

The announcement that a CBD-based drug called Epidiolex won FDA approval made waves in 2018. And now Epidiolex has gone another step further, having just been removed from the DEA’s controlled substances list. 

Epidiolex’s manufacturer, GW Pharmaceuticals, expressed their gratitude in a recent statement. “We would like to thank DEA for confirming the non-controlled status of this medicine. Importantly, the descheduling of EPIDIOLEX has the potential to further ease patient access to this important therapy for patients living with […] debilitating epilepsy.”

All in all this means great things for patients who benefit from cannabis-based drugs…and for the physicians that prescribe them. GW investors are also pretty happy; the company’s stock price went way up after their announcement.

To Sum Things Up…

From the death of Charlotte Figi to the FDA harassment of some CBD companies, this week was an especially harsh one for the cannabis industry. However, not all hope is lost. Pharmaceutical CBD is finally completely legal and companies are rallying together to create critical equipment for the fight against COVID-19, including hand sanitizer, personal protective equipment for healthcare workers and even donating CBD products to help essential employees get through the tough work days.

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