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South Dakota House Blunts GW Pharma Bill

March 2, 2017
South Dakota state capitol building in Pierre, SD.
A South Dakota House committee has amended a controversial cannabidiol (CBD) bill to exclude language that would have given the pharmaceutical company GW Pharma a temporary de facto monopoly of the state’s CBD market.

Senate Bill 95 passed the South Dakota Senate last month. It gained notoriety as one of two bills backed by GW Pharma and its American subsidiary, Greenwich BioSciences, that would move CBD to Schedule IV on state drug regimes—but only CBD in a form that’s received FDA approval. GW/Greenwich’s drug Epidiolex, which treats intractable epilepsy, is expected to received FDA approval as soon as this summer. There is no other FDA-approved CBD drug on the market.


Leafly Exclusive: GW Pharma Is Moving CBD Bills on the Down Low

Leafly News broke the story of the GW/Greenwich bills last month. A GW spokesperson has stated that the company is not attempting to create a monopoly; it just wants patients to be able to access Epidiolex if and when the drug receives FDA clearance.

GW/Greenwich officials have been lobbying South Dakota legislators this past week, as have a number of medical cannabis patients and patient advocates. George Hendrickson, an outspoken advocate whose young son struggles with Dravet syndrome, spoke in favor of amending the bill, as did Teri Robnett, a medical marijuana patient and advocate from Colorado, and Melissa Mentele, chairperson of New Approach South Dakota.


GW Pharma Responds: ‘Not Creating a Monopoly’

At the end of the SB 95 hearing, members of the House committee voted to remove language that defined cannabidiol as “a drug approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration.”

The bill as it now stands would remove CBD from the state’s definition of marijuana, and define it as a Schedule IV drug within South Dakota’s classification system. That would mean all forms of CBD, not just those that have been approved by the FDA, would be considered Schedule IV substances.

If the bill receives full House approval, it would then have to be re-approved by the Senate in its amended form.

Bruce Barcott's Bio Image

Bruce Barcott

Leafly Senior Editor Bruce Barcott oversees news, investigations, and feature projects. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and author of Weed the People: The Future of Legal Marijuana in America.

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  • Open Minds

    Good job covering this story. Keep it up. However, for purposes of full disclosure, you should mention that Leafly is part of Privateer Holdings which also owns Tilray, a Canadian company that also makes CBD products.

  • Jane L Stanley

    Our government has many patents on cannabis, I have found almost 100 and most held by GW Pharmaceutical. This is a monopoly attempt by GW Pharmaceutical, once your state approves a pharmaceutical bill it will be almost impossible for the citizens to go into the cannabis business legally. Why is this government still lying to us about this plant. The Cannabis vs Marinol study in the 80’s showed that cannabis treated cancer far better than Marinol but our government refused to legalize cannabis. We still have three test subjects who are still receiving cannabis from these studies, up to 300 joint a month. That is 10 joints a day and Dr Robert Randall who was the pioneer in the glaucoma in The Investigative New Drug study in the 80’s. Showed not only did cannabis treat glaucoma but cancer and other diseases. Yet here we fight still in Nebraska and through out the US for our senate to do the right thing and completely deregulate this plant. Let us use this plant as we see fit after all cannabis has one of the highest macro and micro nutrients of any plant on earth, it has one of the highest concentrations of Omega 3 and 6, has protein and when used in it’s organic state improves all 210 cell types in our bodies. It improves how our bodies work by activating our immune system, removing and repairing DNA damage, removes nagalase from the vaccines which then limits the damage of vaccines injuries, and opens new pathways to learning.