Medical Marijuana

Pharmaceutical Firm Sees Promise in Marijuana

Potential to treat ailments including diabetes, colitis, and epilepsy

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Medicinal marijuana advocates contend that smoking pot helps relieve pain and alleviate nausea. British drug company GW Pharmaceuticals (GWP:LN) is betting that medicine made from cannabis can also treat maladies as diverse as diabetes, colitis, and epilepsy.

GW is the only pharma group in the world now selling a prescription medicine derived from marijuana plants, as opposed to synthetic equivalents. The drug, a nasal spray called Sativex, has been approved by regulators in eight countries—Italy, most recently—to treat spasms associated with multiple sclerosis. A request for U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval is pending.