A non-intoxicating form of marijuana used to treat children with severe seizure disorders continues to spread across the country.
Two new states, Missouri and North Carolina, recently legalized the drug, known as CBD oil, for medical use. CBD oil is a cannabis extract that’s high in a chemical known as CBD. At the same time, it’s low in THC, the chemical that gets pot users high.
CBD is believed to quiet seizure activity in the brain, making it a highly effective treatment for childhood epilepsy. The fact that the extract lacks any THC makes it more appealing to lawmakers in conservative states.
CBD Laws Are Popping up Across the Country
The legislatures in Missouri and North Carolina recently passed bills legalizing CBD marijuana oil. Those bills are awaiting expected signatures from the states’ governors.
Nine other states have already adopted CBD legislation: Utah, Alabama, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Mississippi, Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Iowa. Lawmakers in two of those states, Iowa and South Carolina, failed to provide a means to get the drug.
CBD is at best a half step toward reform. It has passed in ultra-conservative states such as South Carolina and Mississippi, states whose leaders have resisted any attempt to legalize real marijuana.
The extract is very useful for a small number of patients, most of them young, but of little help to anyone else. Most medical marijuana patients need exposure to THC and other cannabis chemicals.
A Sign of Progress
But the success of CBD oil does offer hope. By adopting even this limited form of medical weed, lawmakers acknowledge the drug has at least some medicinal benefits. That’s a thumb in the eye of the federal government, which bans all pot.
“I think it validates this as medicine,” said Paige Figi, a founder of the Realm of Caring. “It’s very important, these little baby steps with CBD bills.”
The story of Figi’s daughter and her struggles with epilepsy touched off a national movement to legalize CBD oil for children. In fact, the strain now used to treat many children with severe seizures is named for Figi’s daughter: Charlotte’s Web. Figi has testified before several state legislatures in support of CBD.
Charlotte’s Web was crossbred by a group of brothers in Colorado, and that’s now the easiest place for suffering children to get it. Hundreds of families have moved to the state in recent months so their kids would have access to the drug.
Laws May Not Do Much Practical Good
But that’s changing as more states enact CBD cannabis laws. These laws offer a perfect balance for many lawmakers who would otherwise oppose medical weed. On one hand, they offer help to sick patients. On the other, they don’t allow for the kind of recreational freedom that would alienate conservative voters.
Marijuana proponents aren’t so hot on the idea, though. CBD laws are typically very restrictive, cutting out needy patients and making it hard to obtain the drug. Medical weed advocates support access to CBD, but they worry these laws could slow the pace of real reform.
“The bills are so limited and drafted in a way as to likely be practically and legally impossible to implement and therefore will be symbolic only,” said Tamar Todd, senior staff attorney with the Drug Policy Alliance.