Week in Review: California is Official, GW’s Epilepsy Drug & Illinois Resignation

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By Omar Sacirbey and John Schroyer

Californias recreational marijuana campaign makes the November ballot, GW Pharmaceuticals MJ-based epilepsy drug could play a role in DEA rescheduling, and a possible new dawn in Illinois medical cannabis program.

Heres a closer look at some notable developments in the marijuana industry over the past week.

California Taxin

Recreational marijuana may be poised for one of its biggest victories, now that the Adult Use of Marijuana Act has officially been placed on the 2016 general election ballot in California. All current signs suggest victory but some legalization advocates arent ready to celebrate.

First, a little perspective: California is theworlds eighth-largest economy in the world. The state would more than double the current nationwide recreationalmarket, given its population of nearly 40 million. According toChris Walsh, editorial director of

But Sean Donahoe, a California cannabis political consultant, worries that local elections could impose steep taxes on adult-use cannabis products a move that could breathe further life into the black market.

Local governments, he noted, cant make profits off this unless you ask your voters.

He predicts most municipalities offering a legal market will probably ask voters to impose marijuana-related taxes.

And if the cannabis industry isnt organized at the local level, then it can wind up being something very painful, Donahoe warned.

He pointed to Santa Barbara, where the city council this week finalized a November ballot question asking voters to approve a 20% tax on both medical and recreational marijuana. The proposed tax hike will appear on the same ballot as the AUMA.

There will be a wave of these that will be appearing in the next month or so, Donahoe predicted.

Under state law, he said, the only taxes local governments can impose unilaterally are those that recoup administrative costs as opposed to taxes that could dedicate funds to other causes, such as public infrastructure.

So any local government that wants to make money from legalization may well ask voters to approve a new tax. And depending on what local officials decide is appropriate, taxation levels could be sky-high like the Santa Barbara proposal or moremodest.

GW Pharma Trials Swaying Rescheduling?

After thelatest successful clinical trialsinvolving its cannabis-based epilepsy medicine Epidiolex, GW Pharmaceuticals could have the product on the market by the beginning of 2018, said an investment analyst who follows the publicly traded company.

In fact, the British company is expected to file a new drug application with the Food and Drug Administration early next year.

But the impact of those clinical trials could be felt sooner than that: namely, when the Drug Enforcement Administration announces whether it will remove marijuana from its list of most dangerous drugs. Thats expected soon.

Currently, the DEA has marijuana on its Schedule I list of controlled substances. Schedule I drugs think heroin and LSD cant be sold legally. By contrast, Schedule II-V substances can be sold with prescriptions.

Epidiolex is not on the DEAs schedule lists. But because Epidiolex is a marijuana-derived product, it technically falls under Schedule I status. So before Epidiolex can go on the market, the DEA must classify it in one of the schedules that permits drugs to be sold legally.

The decision isntentirely up to the DEA. If the FDA approves a drug, the DEA must put it on a schedule that permits legal sales. That means that if the FDA approves Epidiolex, the DEA would have to put a cannabis-derived medicine on a schedule other than Schedule I.

If it gets approved by the FDA, Im sure it will be rescheduled, Maxim Jacobs, North American director of healthcare research for Edison Investment Research, said of Epidiolex.

GW CEO Justin Gover recently told analystsour objective is to be in a relatively low restricted schedule. GW executives will likely meet with FDA officials this year about their upcoming drug application.

Could Epidiolexs positive news persuade the DEA to reschedule cannabis now?

Sure, Jacobs speculated.He reckons the DEA has been watching the Epidiolex trials.

If the DEA or government is of the mindset a ...

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