A marijuana-based medicine has been approved by the FDA. It's a sign of hope.

The FDA has just approved the first marijuana-based medicine in America.

The medication, called Epidiolex, is a form of cannabidiol (CBD) and has been approved for patients ages 2 and older to treat two types of rare epilepsy: Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.  The medication is not only the first of its kind, it's also the first FDA-approved treatment for Dravet syndrome.

For many years, marijuana has been seen only as an illicit drug. But that's changing.

Not all substances derived from marijuana are created equal. Most people are familiar (some intimately so) with tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC — the psychoactive chemical that provides the "high" that the plant is best known for. CBD, however, doesn't create those same effects, allowing people to reap the benefits without having to slow down their day-to-day lives.


Research has shown that CBD oil has been particularly helpful for those who experience epileptic seizures — reducing symptoms by 40% in clinical trials.

Outside of these trials, there's also evidence that CBD can be effective in treating pain, anxiety, and, according to recent reports, even some of the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder. A study, funded by the National Institutes of Health is underway to determine whether CBD can help those living with post-traumatic stress disorder. In addition, marijuana has been shown to be effective in treating the pain and nausea associated with chemotherapy. And new evidence suggests that it can be a powerful tool when combating the opioid crisis.

In order to develop the best treatments, society's views of marijuana need to evolve.

All of this research is still very new and more must be done. Scientific breakthroughs, however, are hampered by the fact that marijuana remains classified as a Schedule I substance by the government — meaning that it's considered to have no medical use and a high potential for abuse. Those factors make getting treatment near-impossible for those who aren't living in states where it's been legalized. Some families have even had to consider moving in order to get their children treatment that's been called life-saving.

It's already understood that marijuana has medical benefits, but its legal status and the stigma that this status engenders have gotten in the way of both research and safety.

The FDA's approval of Epidiolex is the first step to changing that, starting with removing CBD from the list of Schedule I substances. And the FDA is prepared to support "rigorous scientific research" that shows evidence of marijuana's benefits. For those living with illnesses that marijuana can mitigate, that's an important sign of hope.

Photo courtesy of Capital One
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Growing up in Virginia, Dominique Meeks Gombe idolized her family physician — a young Black woman who inspired Meeks Gombe to pursue her passion for chemistry.

While Meeks Gombe began her career working in an environmental chemistry lab, after observing multiple inefficient processes in and around the lab, she took the initiative to teach herself to code in order to automate and streamline those issues.

That sparked her love for coding and imminent career shift. Now a software engineer at Capital One, Meeks Gombe wants to be a similar role model to her childhood mentor and encourage girls to pursue any career they desire.

"I'm so passionate about technology because that's where the world is going," Meeks Gombe said. "All of today's problems will be solved using technology. So it's very important for me, as a Black woman, to be at the proverbial table with my unique perspective."

Since 2019, she and her fellow Capital One associates have partnered with the Capital One Coders program and Girls For A Change to teach coding fundamentals to middle school girls.

The nonprofit's mission is aimed at empowering Black girls in Central Virginia. The organization focuses on designing, leading, funding and implementing social change projects that tackle issues girls face in their own neighborhoods.

Girls For a Change is one of many local nonprofits that receive support from the Capital One Impact Initiative, which strives to close gaps in equity while helping people gain better access to economic and social opportunities. The initial $200 million, five-year national commitment aims to support growth in underserved communities as well as advance socioeconomic mobility.

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Jeff Bridges photo by Gage Skidmore/Wikicommons

An image from Jeff Bridges' personal note on his website

Way to bury the lead, Jeff! Yesterday's news of Jeff Bridges' cancer remission revealed the beloved Hollywood icon also faced COVID 19, which had him hospitalized for over a month. This put many things on hold, including filming for his new FX thriller series Old Man.

Taking on chemotherapy is no easy task. Pile that onto losing smell, restricted breathing, and medical isolation, and anyone would want to throw in the towel. But for the ever optimistic Bridges, dealing with two health crises simultaneously became a beautiful life lesson, which he shared in a handwritten letter found on his website.


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