Supposed ‘Medical Marijuana’ Measures In Alabama, Utah Are Anything But

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director March 25, 2014

    At a public signing ceremony today, Utah’s Republican Gov. Gary Herbert will approve House Bill 105 — aka “Charlee’s Law.” The law, and others like it, ostensibly allows children with treatment-resistant pediatric epilepsy access to extracts of the marijuana plant high in the cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD).

    While some media outlets are reporting that the passage of these measures are akin to ‘approving medical marijuana,’ such claims are far from accurate.

    Specifically, Utah’s HB 105 — which takes effect on July 1 — is largely unworkable. As written, the law only exempts from state prosecution those with “intractable epilepsy” who possess a cannabis extract that contains more than 15 percent CBD and no more than 0.3 percent THC. Patients must receive a written recommendation from a Utah board certified neurologist and be registered with the state Department of Health before seeking such extracts, which for the time being may only be procured from outside of the state. The extracts must be produced in a lab that possess a state-license to manufacture such products.

    While this language may appear to allow Utah patients to procure CBD products in neighboring medical cannabis states like Colorado, the likelihood of this scenario is highly doubtful. Colorado’s medical marijuana law only allows those who are state residents and who possess a state-issued patient identification card to legally purchase such products. In other words, Utah parents would have to violate Colorado law to obtain high-CBD extracts (which are likely to only be available from a medical dispensary, not a retail cannabis market). Colorado medical marijuana dispensaries would also be in violation of not just the letter of the law, but also the spirit of the law by providing a product they know is intended to be transported across state lines — a clear violation of the guidelines put forward in the August 2013 Department of Justice memo which call for “preventing the diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal in some form to other states.”

    Utah’s forthcoming law also calls on the state Department of Agriculture “to grow or cultivate industrial hemp for the purpose of
    agricultural or academic research,” ostensibly for the purpose of one-day producing high-CBD cannabis medicines. However, it remains to be seen whether such industrial crops can yield therapeutically effective CBD extracts or whether federal lawmakers would even allow such a state-sponsored research project to move forward.

    In Alabama, members of the House and Senate unanimously approved CBD-specific legislation, Senate Bill 174 aka “Carley’s Laws,” late last week. Republican Gov. Robert Bently has announced his intent to sign the measure into law.

    However, like the Utah law, Alabama’s forthcoming law will also be largely unworkable for those who seek to benefit from it. The measure appropriates $1 million dollars for University of Alabama-sponsored research in CBD extracts. Whether such research will actually take place is another story. Because CBD is, like the cannabis plant itself, classified under federal law as a schedule I controlled substance, multiple federal agencies — including the FDA, DEA, NIDA (US National Institute of Drug Abuse), and PHS (Public Health Service) must all sign off on any clinical investigation of the drug — a process that typically takes several years and often ends with federal regulators rejecting the protocol outright. Yet, under “Carley’s Law,” patients may only legally access CBD under if it is “prescribed” during the course of such a federally approved clinical trial.

    Nevertheless, despite these obvious limitations in implementation, lawmakers in various other states — including Florida, Kentucky, Minnesota, South Carolina, and Wisconsin — are considering passing similar measures. (A similar Georgia measure died when lawmakers adjourned late last week.) While the passage of these measures may pose symbolic victories for legislators, they fail to provide tangible benefits to the constituents that they are intended to serve.

    28 Responses to “Supposed ‘Medical Marijuana’ Measures In Alabama, Utah Are Anything But”

    1. David G Ostrow says:

      In addition, even pharmaceutical products being developed for their analgesic properties contain 4 parts THC for every 100 parts CBD.This is appropriate both because the two cannabinoids given together help decrease any undesirable side effects of the primary component. Plus, the “concerto effect” of complex mixes of cannaboids, obtainable at this point in time only from whole plants and their extracts, is totally defeated by calls for “CBD ONLY” medical cannabis programs. So, as the author states, such proposed legislation is impossible to achieve and cynical attempts to eviscerate the clinical application of cannabinoids for specific illnesses, symptoms or syndromes.

    2. David G Ostrow says:

      I recently had the pleasure of flying to NYC with my seat mate being the recognized world expert on the manufacturer of fabrics from natural fibers, such as hemp and jute. As soon as we each opened up to each other about our feelings towards the Federal ban on hemp growth in the US and the need to legalize cannabis, he began to describe why one could never grow hemp plants without ANY THC. Apparently many attempts have been taken to breed cannabis seeds without the ability to produce THC. However none of these seeds are able to germinate or grow to the point of producing THC-free hemp. The lowest THC content compatible with growth is 0.3%, weather it is a high or low CBD containing plant.

    3. w says:

      Just give the kids alcohol and cigerettes. This will be a great benefit for the seizures and its legal and easy to obtain without breaking the laws.

    4. slojoe says:

      I live in Delaware and its the same old smoke being blown. Talk is cheap, and that’s all they do in Delaware, is TALK!!! o dispencerys and no doctors on board.

    5. Voice of the Resistance says:

      @ Linda amen!

    6. Randall says:

      and Bob Hagan has introduced legislation in Ohio for CBD-Only cannabis oil to treat those with pediatric epilepsy.

    7. dk says:

      The mid-terms are coming up. All of this worthless legislation is about getting support from people who wouldn’t normally vote for these guys. Don’t be fooled. No doubt, they will attempt to pull the rug out from under the entire legalization effort shortly after the polls close.

    8. Randall says:

      Also, if Ohioans want marijuana to be legalized in Ohio since there is 88% approximately that support it for medicinal use. I think the ‘plan’ that could be accomplished is to move out of state from Ohio and we all just do it at the same time. Impossible as it may sound of course. So, if a bunch of Ohioans moved to where there is marijuana legalized, then Ohio would come to its senses politically right? When they have no revenue coming in they will think otherwise and no one to fill the job place to pay their tax money for prohibition, so what then? And consider doing this if CBD-only marijuana for children is legalized!

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