Just days after the bill was sent to his desk, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb signed into law HB 1148, a bill establishing a low-THC program for patients suffering from severe seizure disorders. The program will be run through the Department of Health and will allow patients access to cannabis oils containing less than 0.3% THC with their neurologists’ certification. The law takes effect on July 1, 2017, and you can check out our full summary of the program here.
While this program will only benefit a tiny fraction of patients in the state who could benefit from medical cannabis, MPP applauds this important policy step forward. Next session, we hope lawmakers will be persuaded to establish a comprehensive medical marijuana program, something that 73% of Hoosiers support.
A pair of bills that would allow certain patients to use low-THC cannabis are winding their way through the Indiana Legislature. One of the bills is markedly stronger than the other.
SB 15 would allow patients suffering from intractable epilepsy to administer low-THC, CBD-rich medical cannabis with their doctor’s authorization. The bill would create a registry program and permit pharmacists to dispense the oil. It has passed the Senate and is now in the House Committee on Courts and the Criminal Code.
The other bill, HB 1148, provides an affirmative defense for patients, and their caregivers, who suffer from Dravet or Lennox-Gastaut syndromes for low-THC cannabis oil. This means a patient would still be subject to arrest for use of the oil, and would simply have a defense once in court. The House passed that bill unanimously last week and it is now pending in the Senate. While MPP is not opposed to HB 1148, SB 15 is clearly the better proposal since it protects more patients, provides stronger legal protections, and includes more patients with seizures.
While neither bill is the comprehensive reform Hoosiers deserve — and overwhelmingly support — it is clear that lawmakers are listening on this important issue. Please ask your representative to stand up for compassion.