GW Pharmaceuticals’ Epidiolex, a medicine made from the marijuana plant but without THC. The medicine reduced seizures in children with severe forms of epilepsy and warrants approval in the United States, health officials said Tuesday, April 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Kathy Young, File)

Pharmaceutical CBD bill heads to Colorado governor

A bill that creates a lane for the prescribing of FDA-approved CBD medicines in Colorado is now on the road to the governor’s desk.

The state Senate on Tuesday morning unanimously passed House Bill 1187, which would allow for doctors to prescribe and pharmacies to dispense Epidiolex, a cannabidiol-based pharmaceutical drug for rare seizure disorders. Epidiolex is likely weeks away from becoming the first U.S. FDA-approved medicine containing plant-derived cannabis compounds.

Epidiolex’s maker — Greenwich Biosciences, the U.S. subsidiary of London-based GW Pharmaceuticals — is the primary backer of House Bill 1187. The bill was introduced to address a state statute that prevented pharmacies from dispensing cannabis products.

In the months since its drafting and introduction, the bill underwent some surgery after several community stakeholder meetings. Members of Colorado’s marijuana and industrial hemp industries expressed heightened concern that the bill — if successful — could allow GW to run roughshod over the state’s emerging multimillion-dollar CBD extracts industry.

The bill that passed Tuesday included language specifically stating that the provisions should not “be construed so as to prohibit, preclude, or otherwise affect previously authorized activities concerning products derived from marijuana, industrial hemp, or other lawful sources which contain cannabinoids but which are not a prescription medicine approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration.”

Officials for GW Pharmaceuticals could not be immediately reached on Tuesday for comment but responded with a statement via email on Wednesday.

“Greenwich is pleased that this bill is going to allow patients with two catastrophic forms of epilepsy to have access to our CBD medicine should the FDA decide to approve it,” Steve Schultz, a spokesman for GW and Greenwich, said in the statement.

Garrett Graff, an attorney with Denver-based cannabis firm Hoban Law Group, previously told The Cannabist that the amended bill does address concerns raised by the existing cannabis industry.

“Our interests are to ensure the creation of that third swim lane (for pharmaceutical CBD) does not affect the preexisting swim lanes for marijuana and industrial hemp,” he said.