A medicine made from marijuana cut seizures in kids with a severe form of epilepsy in a study that strengthens the case for more research into pot’s possible health benefits. For years, desperate patients and parents have argued for more research and wider access to marijuana, with only anecdotal stories and small, flawed studies on their side. The new study is the first large, rigorous test — one group got the drug, another got a dummy version, and neither patients, parents nor doctors knew who took what until the study ended.
The study tested a liquid form of cannabidiol, one of marijuana’s more than 100 ingredients, called Epidiolex. It doesn’t contain THC, pot’s hallucinogenic ingredient, and is not sold anywhere yet although it is seeking U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval. The company paid for, designed and helped run the study, and another doctor involved in the study has related patents. Patients in the study have Dravet syndrome , a type of epilepsy usually caused by a faulty gene. It starts in infancy and causes frequent seizures, some so long-lasting they require emergency care and can be fatal. The drug is being tested in a second large study in kids with Dravet syndrome, and in studies of some other types of epilepsy.