Major legislation recently passed in the Virginia Senate which allows people with epilepsy to possess two different cannabinoid oils that are extracted from cannabis plants — Cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THC-A).
Senate Bill 1235 was approved by the Senate, bringing mental relief and encouragement to epilepsy patients and families. Many sufferers have endured several invasive and difficult procedures and treatment plans with little to symptom relief, and they want the chance to try the cannabinoid oil therapy that has produced such positive results in other patients, without risking criminal prosecution.
Linda Smith’s 14 year old daughter, Haley (photo above), suffers from a severe form of epilepsy which caused her to endure 1,000 seizures last year. Linda said that Haley has tried “17 different pharmaceuticals,” without relief, and now they would like to try cannabinoid oil therapy. In response to this legislation moving on to the House, Linda reported,
“We’re just really encouraged.”
Another mother that has been very involved in the legislative passing of SB 1235 is Beth Collins, of Fairfax. Her 15 year old daughter, Jennifer, experienced significant seizure relief while living as a medical marijuana refugee in Colorado. Collins actually inspired Senator David Marsden (D-Burke) to sponsor the bill in the Senate.
Now the bill will move to the Virginia House of Delegates, where a similar bill was already approved. SB 1235 also has support from Speaker of the House William Howell and many other influential lawmakers. For this reason, the families that are the inspiration behind this legislation are hopeful that it will soon be on the way to the Governor’s desk.
Though neither of the cannabinoid oils produce intoxicating side effects, both have provided relief to patients suffering from debilitating seizures. If SB 1235 is approved by the House and signed by the Governor, with a written certification from a physician, possession of CBD oil and THC-A will be legal for epilepsy patients. An emergency clause was included in the verbiage of this bill so that patients will not be forced to wait until January or July to legally possess the oils, as many bills require.
It is clear that more research needs to be done to determine if there are any long term effects from using cannabis oil to treat this condition. The passing of this law, however, has brought hope to Virginia’s epilepsy sufferers and their families. The opportunity for significant improvement, and in some cases even complete relief, is finally possible for patients who have been unresponsive to modern invasive treatment options.
photo credit: WordPress; Bob Brown (AP)
In April 2014, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear approved an amendment to the state’s constitution which excluded the non-psychoactive cannabinoid, cannabidiol (CBD), from the definition of marijuana. While this legislation legalized CBD oil, it neglected to include the most important aspect of legalization — language to establish a production and distribution program for patients to have access to the, now legal, cannabinoid concentrate. The omittance of such enabling language left the bill essentially unworkable.
Possessing the CBD oil is legal, only for patients suffering from epilepsy, but it is still illegal for patients to cultivate their own cannabis plants to produce the oil. It is still very illegal to carry cannabis products out of states in which it is legal, like Colorado. It is still very illegal and risky to leave a legal state with the product and then drive through several other states where all cannabis products are illegal, risking prosecution. What good is being able to possess such medicine if patients cannot acquire it? None.
Outside of scrapping the current CBD oil legislation all together and swapping it for a more workable law, there are a couple of options available to Kentucky legislators and the governor. If a bill was to be presented that adds the enabling language needed to establish a production and distribution program to the current legislation, the legislature could vote to approve such an amendment, and the program would have wings. Or, the governor could simply sign an executive order to allow the CBD oil to be produced and distributed within the state. The latter would provide the quickest solution, but the chances of that happening are slim.
There are two other options — two brand new bills filed for the 2015 session. Where the CBD oil legislation is very limited and restrictive, including only patients with epilepsy, these two bills open medical marijuana up to people suffering from several other medical conditions.
Senator Perry Clark (D-Louisville) plans to introduce a bill to establish a medical marijuana program in Kentucky again this year. This bill allows licensed physicians to recommend medical marijuana to patients suffering from multiple conditions, and it allows cannabis to be consumed in all forms. While his proposed legislation does not allow for the medical marijuana to be distributed through licensed dispensaries, it does at least allow for home cultivation and caregiver relationships. It is a very workable bill. Senator Clark told NPR,
“We have children that are suffering, and nothing else is helping these children. And we know by the evidence that this cannabis oil is helps these epileptic children. It’s time to get it to them. Whatever it takes to break the barriers down, it’s time to do it. It’s passed time to do it.”
While the proposal sponsored by Sen. Clark would not allow for the establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries, the second piece of medical marijuana legislation does regulate production and distribution. House Speaker Greg Stumbo is sponsoring a bill, HB 3, that would permit licensed physicians to recommend medical marijuana to patients suffering from several different debilitating medical conditions, and also allow for licensed medical marijuana cultivators, producers and retailers.
Sen. Clark’s medical marijuana bills have been filed in Kentucky for the last three years, but they have never received enough support. Many patients in the Bluegrass State are hoping that 2015 will be different, and that legislators will realize that they did not actually provide relief to a single person by passing the limited and unworkable CBD oil legislation last year.
Unfortunately, Kentucky is not the only state that has approved limited cannabidiol oil legislation that has proven to help no one. Patients in Iowa are having the same problem, and now officials in Georgia are considering approving a similarly unworkable measure. It is important for people to talk about these issues and share knowledge and experiences because the more it is talked about, the more it will be accepted.
photo credit: buycbdoilonline
The “Medical Cannabidiol Act,” signed by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad in May of last year, took effect on July 1, 2014. This limited medical marijuana legislation protects patients suffering from only one form of epilepsy and their caregivers from facing prosecution for possessing the form of medical marijuana known as cannabidiol (CBD) oil.
As of January 2015, the Iowa Department of Public Health has not issued a single medical marijuana identification card. This means that zero patients have been helped from the enactment of this restrictive law.
Under the Medical Cannabidiol Act, only patients suffering from intractable epilepsy are permitted to use only the non-psychoactive cannabinoid known as CBD, in the form of oil. This medicine must contain less than 3 percent of the psychoactive cannabinoid THC. Not only does this legislation seriously restrict who can use cannabis therapy, it also does not allow for the CBD oil to be produced or manufactured in the state. This means that even if a patient is able to qualify for the Iowa medical marijuana program, he or she would be forced to obtain their medicine on the black market.
One of the parents of a boy with intractable epilepsy, who advocated for this law, Maria La France explained her fear of using CBD oil to the quad city times,
“It’s just too dangerous. It’s too scary to break the law, too difficult to lose sleep at night. I frankly spend enough time worrying if my child is going to live another week. I have experimented … I don’t want to say anything that’ll get me arrested or in jail. I don’t want a lynch mob. Who would take care of him if I got arrested.”
La France did obtain a medical marijuana card for her son in Colorado last year, but she let it expire out of fear of prosecution. Even if she kept the Colorado medical marijuana card up to date, she would be committing a crime punishable by years in jail every time she carried the medicine across state lines.
Essentially, the Medical Cannabidiol Act of Iowa is a completely pointless piece of legislation that benefits no one. Senator Joe Bolkom of Iowa City realized this and plans to introduce a bill to develop the medical marijuana program a bit further when the Iowa legislature reconvenes. Bolkom reported that he wants to allow patients suffering from more medical conditions to be eligible, and pointed out, “The medicine has to be produced within the state.”
For the sake of those suffering from many different debilitating medical conditions in the state of Iowa, hopefully the state legislature will take a good look at the weakness of the Medical Cannabidiol Act, and make the necessary amendments for it to be an effective law.