A limited and tightly regulated form of medical marijuana could soon become legal in perhaps the deepest red state in the nation.
The Mississippi Senate voted March 27 to pass the final version of a bill that would legalize so-called CBD oil for patients with severe seizure disorders. The bill, passed the day before by the state House of Representatives, now moves to Gov. Phil Bryant.
CBD oil is a marijuana extract high in CBD, a chemical that is thought to help reduce certain types of seizures. But it’s low in THC, the cannabis chemical that gets tokers high.
That makes the oil ideal for children with severe epilepsy. The drug’s success in reducing seizures in these children has led to a nationwide movement to legalize MMJ, with many parents moving their families to Colorado to obtain access to medical weed.
Because CBD oil can’t get users stoned, it’s also ideal for conservative lawmakers who nonetheless want to appease desperate mothers whose children make for compelling TV news stories.
“I don’t want to get Mississippi 10-year-old children high,” Mark Baker, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and a supporter of the bill, said March 27. “I want the seizures to stop.”
The vote by the House was a substantial step forward for the proposal, since the same lawmakers had rejected it. The Senate vote was more widely expected, as that chamber had already approved similar language.
Under the legislation, doctors in Mississippi could prescribe the CBD extract, and patients could obtain it at only one place: the pharmacy at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.
The marijuana would come from the weed farm at the University of Mississippi’s National Center for Natural Products Research in Oxford, Mississippi. That farm grows all the cannabis used in federally sponsored marijuana research, and it isn’t known for the potency, quality, or diversity of its supply.
CBD bills have become increasingly popular in intensely conservative parts of the country where regular medical weed has little to no chance of becoming law. Utah signed the first such bill into law March 24, and similar legislation awaits the signature of Kentucky’s governor.
Lawmakers in Alabama, Louisiana, and Tennessee are also considering legalizing CBD oil. The Georgia Legislature passed on such a bill there. The Upper Midwest, where support for MMJ is surprisingly soft, has likewise seen political discussions focus on the extract rather than real medical pot.