US farm bill a boon for pharma?

By Flora Southey

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/Светлана Зайцева)
(Image: Getty/Светлана Зайцева)

Related tags Cannabis DEA Hemp

If approved by President Trump, the five-year farm bill – which removes hemp from the federal controlled substance list – could help advance cannabinoid R&D, says Nexien Biopharma.

Yesterday, in a 369-47 vote, the House of Representatives passed a five-year farm bill​ that legalises hemp cultivation and production in the US.

According to the bill conference report​, ‘hemp’ refers to any part of the plant Cannabis sativa L., with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of less than 0.3%.

The vote followed a decision by the House of Representatives on Tuesday​ to support the bill, 87 to 13. The bill will now be sent to President Trump, who is expected to sign it into law.

According to Nexien Biopharma, a firm investigating the use of cannabinoid receptor modulators and terpenes in dystrophia disease and restless leg syndrome, the bill could lead to ‘many positive developments’ in the health sector.

“Removing hemp, and potentially some of its phyto-cannabinoids themselves, from the controlled substance act, will provide a clearer perspective to those currently on the sidelines of cannabinoid science,” ​said the company’s CEO, Alex Wasyl, in a statement.

“This will presumably hasten the timeline for the private sector and academic institutions to further contribute to developing valuable research.

“More research will enable targeted therapeutics for additional indications beyond existing cannabinoid pharmaceuticals to be developed and brought to market – most importantly, to patients in need,” ​he added.

Pharma interest

The medicinal potential of cannabis has attracted increased attention in the pharma space this year: from a report​ on big pharma’s cannabis patent portfolios, to the launch​ of a cannabis-specialised contract research organisation (CRO) in Canada.

Notably, the US Food and Drug Administration approved​ its first cannabis-derived pharmaceutical product – GW Pharmaceuticals’ Epidiolex (cannabidiol) – for the treatment of two childhood onset epilepsy syndromes, in June this year. The prescription-only drug launched​ in November.

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