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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. bobwv says:

      Sounds like proof positive treason and genocide are addictive. They can’t quit.

    2. Justin says:

      This is a really stupid law seeing that its a pointless law. All that law is saying is you can get hemp legally when you already can legally. As long as it has the low levels of thc .03 aka hemp its legal to ship anywhere. I have already found 3 company’s that ship the same stuff anywhere in USA totally legal that is high in cbd and no high from it. Gotta love our tax money going to stupid shit like this when it is all ready legal to do what this law says!

    3. Closet Smoker says:

      Nothing but feel good legislation that the politicians will point out and use in future elections as them being “progressive” and up to date with current issues because they were involved with it. Cannabis friendly my ass, I hope ya’all are taking names…..

    4. Anonymous says:

      They can have five wives and be disgusting, worthless perverts but you can’t smoke bud, ya’ll…

    5. Matthew58 says:

      For Alabama, at least it’s a step in the right direction. I have hope now, for the possible legislation of MMJ, from an ultra conservative, right wing, Christian-based state.

    6. spence says:

      this is horse shit Gov. Herbert was supposed to sign this bill a week sooner if he had this little girl would not have had a seizure and bit her tongue off and died this Government is in my eyes responsible for this little girl and many other deaths all because they wont legalize cannabis that is murderous folks, cant deny that the more people die from not being able to get cannabis the more the Government acting like Nazi criminals for their own power trip legalize all cannabis NOW people are dying and need cannabis to live quit being asses

    7. Mr. Musick says:

      Federal legalization needs to happen; cut through all the red tape. Im not sure if our representatives are really bad at writing laws, or if they are extremely good(at being as useless as possible). Writing laws that wont have any traction; and pretending you are a Rep. for what the people want.
      Quit it.

      Dont piddle around with decriminalizing, legalize.
      Dont take something God put together in all his wisdom and glory, and split it up to what you think is best.

    8. Awakened says:

      Alabama isn’t the worst state, but surely one of the worst about jailing peaceful hemp smokers and propping up the narco-banker-terror-ocracy.

      A friend who lives here, and has discussed moving to WA or CO frequently, keeps insisting “It will NEVER be legal in AL.” This is a stretch for the gov. in such a pro-fake conservatism state, but such a little step is hard to read. It seems as if it may not be intended for such money to be spent; but, the 10th amendment obviates the right of the federal government to have any say on whether research is done here or not; despite the out of control feds. Perhaps he intends to go farther later, or a large number of legislators do; but perhaps it is also just a token effort (no pun intended ;).

    9. Lee Roy Sanders, Junior says:

      Alabama will do anything and spend so much money to not simply Legalize Marijuana *Cannabis Sativa. Such diversions say on one hand Marijuana is helpful but no Marijuana can’t be allowed to be legalized is nothing but the Prohibition of Marijuana in Alabama.

      Cannabis Sativa is the only actual Marijuana and from it only there are high quality chemicals of medical purposes. Quality outweighs quantity. ? Ruderalis and ?Indica are rope hemp and nothing more.

      Governments fear Cannabis Sativa because it contains psyche active chemicals that actually aid in the function of the brain. Governments want weak minds and followers who will repeat exactly what they say and think no other. This is the only reason governments fear the use of Cannabis Sativa!

    10. Lee Roy Sanders, Junior says:

      Alabama will do anything and spend so much money to not simply Legalize Marijuana *Cannabis Sativa. Such diversions say on one hand Marijuana is helpful but no Marijuana can’t be allowed to be legalized is nothing but the Prohibition of Marijuana in Alabama.

      Cannabis Sativa is the only actual Marijuana and from it only there are high quality chemicals of medical purposes. Quality outweighs quantity. ? Ruderalis and ?Indica are rope hemp and nothing more.

      Governments fear Cannabis Sativa because it contains psyche active chemicals that actually aid in the function of the brain. Governments want weak minds and followers who will repeat exactly what they say and think no other. This is the only reason governments fear the use of Cannabis Sativa!

      (PS. I am applaud at propagandist editors who add and take away from someones post. There are no ? marks before the Rope Hemp Latin names Ruderalis and Indica.)

    11. RUT says:

      they want to look like they have done something but what they are doing is continuing the prohibition. These clowns would not know how to help if common sense bit them in the butt. It seems if some thing is legalized in a half hearted way they will have plenty of avenues to continue to arrest people. AMERICANS WAKE UP THESE POLITICANS WANT TO HAVE ENOUGH ARREST TO KEEP UP WITH THE QUOTAS ON THEIR PRISONS FOR PROFIT CONTRACTS. ALSO TO SUPPORT A LARGE OVER REACHING LAW ENFORCEMENT MACHINE THAT THEY BUILT. LEGAL BUT NOT LEGAL! VOTE THESE JERKS OUT OF OFFICE!

    12. linda says:

      Please! Please!! Please!!! Separate church (LDS) and state! Forget about your religion and start doing what the citizens want and need!! I thought you were suposed to work for Utah residents.

      In case you haven’t done any research on cannabis, you might want to before making decisions that affect people’s lives. Researchers have produced plants that are very, very, low in THC and very, very high in. BD. It has also been proven to help chemo patients and people who suffer day in and day out with chronic pain. This is not made with chemicals. It is made by God and put on earth to help people. People are still going to get it if they want to. But all of the millions of $ will continue to go to people selling on the streets rather that a source of income and jobs for the State of Utah! Wake up please!

    13. Anonymous says:

      Paul wrote: 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.
      Anne Comment: Maybe legalizing industrial hemp is the first step to actual legalization.
      Ignorance rules the world !!!

    14. Mark I says:

      Cannabidiol is legal in all fifty states. Its just too expensive to purchase when it is a byproduct of concentrating cannabinoids to separate out the delta nine cannabinol, leaving behind the cannabidiol extract.

      [Paul Armentano responds: CBD is classified as a schedule I prohibited substance under the Controlled Substances Act.]

    15. Dusty says:

      These strain-specific bills are not good for anybody — not even the kids they are allegedly designed to help. They will do nothing but distract from and stand in the way of real reform.

    16. Dave Evans says:

      “Cannabidiol is legal in all fifty states.”

      What? It is listed right next to THC as a controlled dangerous substance. However, just like THC it is not a “Dangerous Substance”. Why are you letting yourselves be sidetrack by such dumb legislation? There is no reason to require less than 0.3 percent THC unless the person/patient has a bad reaction to THC–it is just stupid otherwise. Almost no one has a bad reaction to it unless they are given way too much, so marijuana already low in THC and higher in CDB is all that is required by reality and laws should reflect reality not some lunatic’s scaremongering.

    17. OH says:

      Conservatives will eventually deny they were ever prohibitionists.

    18. mattw says:

      There is zero evidence that these CBD strains provide all the same benefits of the standard strains. Prohibitionists frequently argue that there has not been enough research done to verify the positive benefits of cannabis. Now these same people are fine with this new strain that there has been absolutely zero testing done on. That is not only hypocritical but frankly dangerous. We know about the side effects and long term concerns about cannabis – we know nothing about the side effects or long term concerns about these new CBD intensive strains. For all we know messing with the ratios of chemicals in the plant could be causing more harm than good. Not to mention the fact that his law is completely unenforceable.

      That all being said – it is nice to see at least SOME change in attitude among the ignorant. It is simply way too little. What about people suffering from other illnesses? This appears to ONLY apply to pediatric epileptic patients. What about adults with epilepsy? Or any other of the countless illnesses that cannabis can be a beneficial treatment. I understand the desire to highly regulate medical cannabis. When people claim bullshit to get a medical id card it further damages the hopes of those of us with actual medical concerns. Personally I suffer from the extremely painful and life shattering auto-immune disease Multiple Sclerosis. I pray daily that Pennsylvania will pull its collective head out of its ass. We are one of those states that proposed CBD legislation, as well as standard medical and recreational bills – which sit in committee every single year and never even come to a vote on the committee much less the house or senate floor. Meanwhile every day I’m woken up with muscle spasms that are so bad I’ve attempted suicide twice simply to make them stop. Muscle relaxers and pain meds do nothing but exhaust me and cause a list of side effects to stack on top of the disease symptoms. The few times I’ve been able to smoke cannabis the difference has been stark and obvious. Unfortunately attempting to obtain cannabis on the street puts me on a collision course with the police and unscrupulous drug dealers. Being in a wheelchair doesn’t protect me from being robbed, assaulted or arrested. It just makes it all the more depressing. So instead I pray, hope and contact my local legislator to no avail. I can only cross my fingers that there will be some headway in my state before my liver or kidneys give out from the volume of medications I have to take to get even a tiny bit of the relief a simple plant gives me. It’s sad but it seems that the only way things will change is if more backwards, ignorant old people die out – leaving the door open for people who use their minds and actually read and understand the studies that have been done. I just hope I live long enough to see the change.
      For those that will say “Move to a different state”…. moving to another state is expensive. Disability barely covers my housing, food and medical needs. I can’t even begin to imagine saving up enough to move – I can barely afford to survive. Not to mention moving out of state would put me out of reach of the physicians I trust and have gone to for over 2 decades. I would also be far out of reach of my entire support structure of family and friends. I don’t like to wish bad things upon people but maybe if a few of our legislatures were stricken with any number of devastating illnesses they might be more open minded. Of course Mitt Romney’s wife has MS and he is of the opinion that I should go to jail if I smoke weed. I just don’t get it….

    19. Snake says:

      According to the federal government there will be no interfere from them. They are going to let each state decide what they want and what they are going to do within each state as long as there are laws to regulate it.

    20. Randall says:

      Rep. Bob Hagan is taking a new approach in Ohio to legalizing medical marijuana. House Joint Resolution 6 and House Bill 153 were introduced by this representative last year and still could get voted on if they made there way through the process to the ballot; they are stalled in the process. Bob Hagan has now introduced legislation that would discover the value of cannabidiol to treat epilepsy in children. His concern is that Ohioans would leave the state to seek medical marijuana/recreational marijuana in other states such as Colorado. His this concern genuine? I mean, is he more concerned about children or the citizens of Ohio leaving the State? I appreciate Mr. Hagan’s effort to try and legalize recreational marijuana and medicinal marijuana more. Too bad it has been stalled in the process from furthering. It is said that they have a slight chance of success. It isn’t because of the voters that could vote for medicinal or recreational marijuana. A vast majority of Ohioans support medical marijuana at nearly 90% and about half support the tax and regulation of recreational marijuana. The lawmakers don’t want it to make it to the point that it even gets voted on judging by their actions of neglecting his bills last year; bills that have progressed into this year. Mr. Hagan says that since changing his approach, he has seen more support from his colleagues. Is that because of the children who suffer from epilepsy or because of the concern about people moving out of Ohio? People are already do so anyways and might considering moving back if the medicinal use of marijuana were at the very least legalized. Wouldn’t legalizing cannabidiol for children with epilepsy be the very least that Ohio could do? There are now four chances that marijuana could get legalized:
      1) House Joint Resolution 6
      2) House Bill 153
      3) Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment approved by Attorney General Mike DeWine if approximately 390,000 signatures are collected by on or around July 2nd, 2014 for placement on the ballot in November. Amendment will be on the ballot for Wayne county because it reached its 5% minimum of signatures collected. The signatures have to be verified. There is planning by the Ohio Rights Group to collect signatures in Cincinatti for the opening of the baseball season tomorrow. It is estimated that 100,000 people will be attending a gathering in Cincinnati and the Ohio Rights Group is trying to get the volunteers to Cincinnati from other counties for this large event. It is a good sign that there is momentum is the last few months to collect signatures for the placement on the ballot in November.
      4) Bob Hagan’s new approach to cannabidiol for epilepsy in children.

      I wonder why there a lawmakers that would consider ‘marijuana for kids’ especially when it contradicts the attitude in the past that they don’t want marijuana to be available to kids. They don’t want to give the message to kids that marijuana is okay to use (which I find to be self-evident myself at least with use itself). What is the problem with people 18 or 21 years old using recreational marijuana, they are grown adults! It is better intended to cover all of those who suffer from a medical condition in which it alleviates the symptoms of for all ages affected by their condition for medicinal use of marijuana. I believe that marijuana used for pediatric purposes is just more evidence that this substance is even more harmless than it was considered before. So, if a certain cannabinoid relieves children of their epileptic seizures, then how would this be dangerous to use by the entire population or adults? Schedule I means that it has no accepted medical value and that it is not safe to use. It was adjudged that it could be removed or reclassified, but then there is the “Deniability Enforcement Administration” aka Drug Enforcement Administration. Of course there could be no recognized medical value or safety of this substance it you grant all of the studies for the harms associated with marijuana and denying all of the studies for the benefits. What are they hiding, then? There obviously has been some discovery of the benefits of marijuana unavoidably by studies meant to reveal harm. The studies that are granted for the harm of marijuana have not found any or much harm therefore supporting the benefits of marijuana that have been commonplace even for centuries. The DEA’s approved tests for marijuana’s harm only confirm is beneficiary status by not proving it harmful. Confront them about it and they a presumed to have justifiable deniability. That is all I will write. Thanks for reading if you did.

    21. 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!

    22. 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.

    23. Randall says:

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

    24. Voice of the Resistance says:

      @ Linda amen!

    25. 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.

    26. 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.

    27. 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.

    28. 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.

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