For the first time, a federal advisory committee has recommended that the Food and Drug Association (FDA) vote to approve a prescription cannabidiol medicine. The medication, known as Epidiolex, is a form of cannabidiol (CBD), which is a cannabis derivative. According to a report by NBC News, approval of the medication would be limited to treating seizures caused by Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome in patients aged 2 and older. Although the FDA has indicated that it would vote in favor or approval, the medication has only received such a recommendation from the aforementioned federal advisory committee after a unanimous vote. The FDA is expected to make a final decision by June.

As previously reported in December, Dravet syndrome has already been treated in legal states by cannabis-oil derivatives. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine indicated that out of 120 children, half experienced reduction of the frequency of seizures when treated with medicinal cannabis-based products.

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WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 29: U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks during a news conference at the Justice Department November 29, 2017 in Washington, DC. Sessions announced the Justice Department will fund more than $12 million in grants to assist law enforcement agencies and to establish a new DEA field division in the Appalachian Mountain region to combat the opioid crisis. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

During a November 28 press conference, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions suggested that the Department of Justice is planning to crack down on recreational marijuana, even in states that have legalized it. Now proponents of medical cannabis fear that this crackdown could also extend to medical cannabis, now legal in 29 US states.

On December 8, 2017, Congressional Republicans narrowly avoided a government shutdown with a deal that would fund the government by another two weeks. That means an amendment within the bill, known as the Rohrabacher-Farr Act (also known as Rohrabacher-Blumenauer) will also be extended two weeks. That law, made up of just 85 words, blocks the Department of Justice from using any money to prosecute medical marijuana patients in states where it's legal. If the law is not upheld, patients who are currently able to access legal, cannabis-based treatments may find themselves on the wrong end of the law, or unable to access their formerly legal medicine.

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medical marijuana and pills

[DIGEST: The Cannabist, Rolling Stone, Boston Globe, The Guardian]

In states where medical cannabis is legal, patients are turning to weed for relief from a variety of ailments, including chronic pain, PTSD, anxiety, sleep disorders, epilepsy and side effects of chemotherapy. They say the treatment is effective, has few side effects, and is less addictive than traditional pharmaceutical prescriptions, making it a powerful tool in the fight against prescription drug abuse and opioid addiction.

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DIGEST: The Oregonian, NBC, Leafly, U.S. News, Law360, Register Guard, Forbes]

Oregon lawmakers have taken steps to protect customers of the state’s legal cannabis industry from exposing their identities and personal information to the federal government. Anticipating interference by federal drug agents under the Trump administration’s plan to crack down on cannabis, a bipartisan group of lawmakers approved a bill to abolish a common business practice in which cannabis customers’ names, birth dates, addresses, and other personal information is kept in a database.

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[DIGEST: Norml, Forbes, NPR, Slate, WashPost]

The 2016 election brought about some definitive progress in statewide efforts to legalize both medical and recreational marijuana. Four states voted to permit the use of cannabis to treat medical conditions, and another four states voted to legalize recreational use for adults and establish a formal and regulated system of cannabis production and sales. Following this election, 29 states now have approved medical marijuana programs and eight states have approved recreational use, with variations of regulated sales and production.

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A vendor weighs buds for card-carrying medical marijuana patients attending Los Angeles' first-ever cannabis farmer's market at the West Coast Collective medical marijuana dispensary, on the fourth of July, or Independence Day, in Los Angeles, California on July 4, 2014 where organizer's of the 3-day event plan to showcase high quality cannabis from growers and vendors throughout the state. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

[DIGEST: International Business Times, Washington Post]

Millions of Americans will vote on November 8 on whether to legalize access to marijuana. Five states will consider legalizing recreational pot use, and the latest polls indicate that voters favor passage in all five states. These polls track national sentiment: According to recent polls, the majority of Americans nationwide support the legalization of marijuana. A Gallup survey gauged support at 58 percent, while another found that 1 in 8––13 percent––of U.S. adults say they smoke pot, up from 7 percent in 2013.

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[DIGEST: Forbes, iCan, Motley Fool, Observer]

Marijuana use is commonly believed to impair short-term memory. Ironically, however, it also contains compounds that could preserve long-term memory and provide protective benefits to the aging brain.

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