Virginia has joined the list of states that allow a non-intoxicating form of medical marijuana for children. The state General Assembly voted in February to adopt a so-called CBD law, which could help young Virginians suffering from intractable seizures.
The state Senate approved similar legislation earlier in the month. Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, has said that he supports the idea of medical marijuana. He is expected to sign the bill.
The legislation passed the Virginia Legislature’s lower chamber by a unanimous vote, while the companion bill in the Senate passed 37-1. CBD laws have proven to be a popular, risk-free way to help suffering patients.
That’s because CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive product of the marijuana plant. It won’t get users high, in other words, and that makes it ideal for children who have no other source of relief.
CBD is drawing attention
CBD has made a big splash in the news over the past two years. While more states have continued to adopt full-scale medical cannabis programs, a series of conservative states, mostly in the Deep South, have adopted CBD laws instead.
CBD is thought to quiet over-activity in the brain, reducing associated seizures. Many families have reported that the treatment has almost completely stopped their children’s convulsions.
Some of these parents have banded together in cities across the country to push for MMJ reform and the legalization of CBD extracts. Their political agitation has prodded a dozen states, including Virginia, into allowing CBD treatments.
State lawmakers said they feel for patients who need this medicine.
“If you’re a kid with intractable epilepsy and you get caught with marijuana oil, I’m not going to make you a criminal,” said Delegate Dave Albo, a Republican.
Virginia against full MMJ legalization
Albo said that he initially tried to push for full MMJ in Virginia, but conservative lawmakers feared that intoxicating weed would end up in the hands of kids. Most strains of cannabis are low in CBD, but high in THC, the chemical that gets users stoned.
Although they don’t help most patients, CBD laws are a helpful first step in the fight to pass reforms in traditionally hostile places. Utah, Alabama, and Mississippi, three of the deepest-red states in the country, already allow CBD pot.
Typically, the chemical is fed to children as a tincture or oil. It may also be cooked into food. Children generally aren’t allowed to smoke the drug.
Virginia already had a medical weed law on its books, but it wasn’t a very good one. It required that patients obtain actual written prescriptions from doctors, who are barred by federal law from prescribing pot.
Better MMJ laws instead rely on a written physician’s certification, which is technically short of a formal prescription. Officials have said that the new law should be much more effective.