GOP Congressman Scott Perry of Pennsylvania introduced a bill today that would make CBD oil legal under federal law.
If passed, the “Charlotte’s Web Medical Hemp Act of 2014″ would allow states to permit patients suffering from epilepsy and related conditions to use an oil that is extremely low in THC but high in cannabidiol, or CBD. Under current federal law, any product made from marijuana is illegal.
It is great to see growing recognition of marijuana’s medical benefits, but this proposal would not help most of the seriously ill people who could benefit from them.
On Thursday, Sen. Rand Paul proposed an amendment that would keep the federal government from prosecuting medical marijuana patients and physicians as well as interfering with states that implement medical marijuana laws, Huffington Post reports. The amendment was added to a jobs bill currently being heard on the Senate floor. Senator Paul’s communication director, Brian Darling, explained the senator’s move. “What we’re trying to do is look at the law and allow states that have changed their laws and have allowed medical marijuana to do so, for doctors to be able to prescribe and for people to be able to get those prescriptions without being worried about the federal government coming in and arresting them.”
Senator Paul has proposed similar legislation in the past, such as an amendment that would restrict the DEA and federal prosecutors from pursuing medical marijuana users and distributors that are in compliance with state law. “The effort before was to defund prosecutions — so it would block the federal government from prosecuting until that appropriations bill runs out about a year later.” Said Darling. The Senate is unlikely to vote on Senator Paul’s amendment due to gridlock, but Paul’s office has made it clear they are prepared to pursue similar legislation in the future.
Ricardo Pereyda, a University of Arizona alumnus and veteran diagnosed with PTSD, has begun a petition for the university to reinstate Sue Sisley, one of the foremost experts in using medical marijuana to treat PTSD. As previously reported, Sue Sisley was dismissed from the University of Arizona after getting the green light to start a study on marijuana’s effectiveness in treating PTSD. Pereyda, who served in Iraq, says that marijuana has “helped [him] to live a more full and productive life” dealing with his PTSD. He hopes his petition will convince the university to reconsider its dismissal of Dr. Sisley so her research can continue.
Minnesota has named Michelle Larson as their first marijuana director with less than a year before their medical marijuana law takes effect, the Star Tribune reports. Larson is an environmental health expert who has been instrumental in implementing Illinois’ Health Department policies. She now has until July 15, 2015 to design the state’s medical marijuana infrastructure, when Minnesota’s medical marijuana law is due to take effect. Minnesota Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger expressed confidence in the choice: “Michelle brings a strong background in public policy and administration, as well as a history of working with the public health community, law enforcement and security, pharmacists, health care providers and community members. She has the ability to work with people to get things done right.”
Minnesota’s medical marijuana law was passed earlier this year and is regarded as one of the most restrictive in the nation. Two manufacturers in the state will produce all of the medical marijuana supply for Minnesota and it will be available at only eight locations. Michelle Larson and her ten-person team are now tasked with delegating who will be licensed as manufacturers and distributors. The department hopes to have the manufacturers chosen by December so there will be plenty of time before patients start registering in May. Larson will begin her job in her new position on August 13.
On Sunday, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill that will add seizure conditions to Illinois’ medical cannabis program for both adults and minors. The new law also allows parents to seek permission for minors to access medical marijuana for other qualifying conditions. Special thanks are owed to bill sponsors Sen. Iris Martinez and Rep. Lou Lang, and the many parents and advocates who tirelessly worked to make the bill a reality for seriously ill patients.
The rules are far from perfect. The Illinois program is by far the most expensive in the nation for cultivators, with a non-refundable application fee of $25,000, and a first-year license of $200,000. That means the Department of Agriculture will receive a windfall of $4.4 million for issuing just 22 cultivation center licenses during the first year of the program, not including application fees. Unfortunately, the enormous tab will surely be passed along to patients.