This is National Epilepsy Awareness Month, with a campaign designed to raise awareness about the neurological disorder that affects around 200,000 new patients each year. Once considered a fringe treatment for epilepsy, cannabis has now moved to the forefront of epileptic research and will be a focus of the Cannabis and Epilepsy Symposium on November 17 in Denver.
Thanks to new discoveries surrounding cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis and hemp, those suffering from certain forms of epilepsy have seen dramatic drops in seizures without the side effects that often came with pharmaceutical drugs. Epidiolex, a marijuana-derived CBD drug, was even approved by the Drug Enforcement and Food and Drug administrations earlier this year, while over forty states in the country have explicitly approved CBD for medical use.
While CBD products derived from state-licensed cannabis are still deemed federally illegal, their status is more murky when the CBD is extracted from hemp. The DEA has issued several conflicting opinions and memos over the years about hemp's legality without removing it from Schedule I substance designation, but states have been legalizing and regulating their own hemp industries since Congress passed the Farm Bill in 2014.
The conference, held by the Epilepsy Foundation of Colorado (EFCO), is for patients, scientists and physicians alike. Nearly a dozen doctors and attorneys specializing in cannabis policy and research as well as epilepsy treatment will discuss everything from recent scientific research to CBD's legal status in America.
According to EFCO, around 60,000 Coloradans suffer from epilepsy, with over 3.4 million cases nationwide. According to EFCO executive director Sarah Klein, one in 26 people are diagnosed with epilepsy during their lives, and the questions around CBD have only grown as more research becomes available.
“The foundation receives calls and questions on a regular basis about the medical and legal implications of CBD use, and we’re looking forward to sharing objective, unbiased information so people can get their questions answered and make informed health-care decisions," Klein says. "November is a special month for us to recognize the people we love who are living with epilepsy, and to continue raising awareness for this condition."
The symposium will run from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday, November 17, at the McNichols Building, 144 West Colfax Avenue. Unlike most medical marijuana conferences, the Cannabis and Epilepsy Symposium is relatively affordable: Tickets (18+) are $15 now and $20 at the door. Get them here.
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