Brain and Body

A Synthetic Liquid Cannabinoid Has Been Approved by the FDA

July 28, 2016 | Kelly Tatera

Cannabis plant
Photo credit: Bokske/wikipedia (CC by SA 3.0)

Marijuana drinks coming to dispensaries near you?

This month, the FDA announced its approval of the first ever liquid form of synthetic tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive compound in cannabis.

The liquid drug has been classified as a Schedule III drug, meaning the FDA essentially considers it to be safe and have a low risk for abuse. Regular marijuana, on the other hand, remains alongside heroin and MDMA as a Schedule I drug.

Sold under the brand name Syndros, the drug is a liquid dronabinol, which is a synthesized version of THC that’s been around since the 1980s. In 1985, the FDA first approved Marinol, which is a dronabinol in pill form, used to treat AIDS patients with appetite loss and cancer patients with nausea.

SEE ALSO: Yeast Engineered to Produce Cannabinoids

The FDA is hoping that the liquid form may be easier for the body to absorb than the pill form.

Further, the liquid dronabinol may offer a more targeted treatment for those struggling with pain, nausea, epilepsy, and other conditions that can be treated with marijuana, particularly because it lacks some of the compounds from natural marijuana that create the euphoric high.

“The drug approval process remains the best way to identify new treatments that are safe and effective for patients and to protect patients from products that are not what they purport to be,” the FDA wrote in a statement.

Medical marijuana physician Dr. William Eidelman tells Motherboard that there’s no way for a drug test to decipher the difference between THC in dronabinol versus regular marijuana, so it remains to be seen how the legal issues will be smoothed out in states where marijuana is illegal.

Further, there’s been no word on whether liquid THC will fall under the same legal codes as recreational marijuana in the states where it is legal, but we could see marijuana drinks hit the markets in the next year or two.

You might also like: How the Government Limits Valid Scientific Research on Marijuana

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