HEALTH

Marijuana derivative approved in Brazil for medical treatment

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 25:  Marijuana is seen in a jar at Perennial Holistic Wellness Center medical marijuana dispensary, which opened in 2006, on July 25, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. The Los Angeles City Council has unanimously voted to ban storefront medical marijuana dispensaries and to order them to close or face legal action. The council also voted to instruct staff to draw up a separate ordinance for consideration in about three months that might allow dispensaries that existed before a 2007 moratorium on new dispensaries to continue to operate. It is estimated that Los Angeles has about one thousand such facilities. The ban does not prevent patients or cooperatives of two or three people to grow their own in small amounts. Californians voted to legalize medical cannabis use in 1996, clashing with federal drug laws. The state Supreme Court is expected to consider ruling on whether cities can regulate and ban dispensaries.    (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 25: Marijuana is seen in a jar at Perennial Holistic Wellness Center medical marijuana dispensary, which opened in 2006, on July 25, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. The Los Angeles City Council has unanimously voted to ban storefront medical marijuana dispensaries and to order them to close or face legal action. The council also voted to instruct staff to draw up a separate ordinance for consideration in about three months that might allow dispensaries that existed before a 2007 moratorium on new dispensaries to continue to operate. It is estimated that Los Angeles has about one thousand such facilities. The ban does not prevent patients or cooperatives of two or three people to grow their own in small amounts. Californians voted to legalize medical cannabis use in 1996, clashing with federal drug laws. The state Supreme Court is expected to consider ruling on whether cities can regulate and ban dispensaries. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)  (2012 Getty Images)

Brazil on Wednesday for the first time approved the use of a marijuana derivative to treat people suffering from severe seizures and other conditions.

Directors of the country's Health Surveillance Agency recognized the therapeutic properties of cannabidiol, saying it is now a "controlled" substance and no longer illegal.

It can now be used to treat epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and schizophrenia among other disorders.

Cannabidiol is not produced in Brazil and the agency said it will draw up legislation permitting it to be imported.

"We had a technical and scientific discussion of a matter that is often influenced by other issues and biases," the agency's president Jaime Oliveira told reporters.

He said cannabidiol does not cause dependency nor psychoactive effects on users.

"It is a great first step but we still need easier and less expensive access to the medication," said Margarete de Brito who gives cannabidiol to her 6-year-old daughter Sofia who was born with a genetic mutation that causes seizures.

Last month, the Federal Medical Council that regulates the medical profession in Brazil authorized neurologists and psychiatrists to prescribe cannabidiol to treat epileptic children and teenagers who do not respond to conventional treatment.

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