More States Move Forward With CBD-Only Measures, But Will They Help Patients?

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director April 10, 2014

    Lawmakers in Alabama and Utah recently approved legislation seeking to authorize the physician-supervised use of varieties of cannabis and/or extracts high in the non-psychotropic cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD). Both measures, which I previously summarized as ‘largely unworkable,‘ have now been signed into law.

    In recent days, lawmakers in three additional states — Kentucky, Mississippi, and Wisconsin — have similarly signed off on CBD-explicit legislation. These measures are now awaiting signatures from each states’ respective Governors.

    Similar to Alabama’s SB 174 (aka ‘Carley’s Law), which only permits the use of CBD by prescription during the course of an FDA-approved clinical trial, the pending Kentucky and Wisconsin bills may also be classified as ‘research-centric’ measures. Kentucky’s SB 124 permits physicians “practicing at a hospital or associated clinic affiliated with a Kentucky public university” to “dispense” cannabidiol during the course of an FDA-approved clinical trial. Wisconsin’s AB 726 similarly limits those who may legally dispense CBD to only include those physicians who have obtained an FDA-issued investigational drug permit to prescribe it. In Tennessee, lawmakers are also close to finalizing similar language (included in HB 2461 and SB 2531) that seeks to allow university clinical researchers to “manufacture” and “dispense” high-CBD cannabis oil “as part of a clinical research study on the treatment of intractable seizures.” (By contrast, separate, broader medical cannabis measures seeking to authorize the use of the whole plant failed this year in all three states.)

    As I’ve previously written here and here, it is unlikely that specific changes in state law will stimulate these type of proposed clinical trials from taking place in these states any time soon. Because CBD is acknowledged by federal regulators to be classified as a schedule I prohibited 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 cannabinoid — a process that typically takes several years. A keyword search of FDA-approved clinical trials using the terms “cannabidiol” and “United States” yields fewer than ten ongoing human trials involving CBD — less than half of which are assessing its potential therapeutic application. (Two additional safety trials assessing the use of GW Pharmaceutical’s patented high-CBD formulation Epidiolex in children with severe epilepsy are also ongoing.)

    Unlike the above-mentioned measures, Mississippi’s HB 1231, does not seek to encourage state-sponsored clinical trials. Rather, the measure exempts specific high-CBD formulated oils “that contain more than fifteen percent cannabidiol [and] … no more than one-half of one percent of tetrahydrocannabinol” from the state’s definition of a schedule I prohibited substance. However, like Utah’s HB 105 (aka ‘Charlee’s Law), Mississippi’s pending law does not provide guidance as to where patients could legally obtain such extracts. Though such high-CBD products are presently available in a limited number of medical cannabis states (such as in California and Colorado), these extracts are typically only available to in-state residents who possess authorization from a physician licensed to practice in that state. (Although Colorado state law also allows for a recreational cannabis market, which may be legally accessed by out-of-state residents, at present time such high-CBD concentrates are seldom available at retail outlets.)

    Additional cannabidiol-specific measures also remain pending in Florida and South Carolina, among other states. NORML will report on these measures as they progress and we will continue to express caution in regards to their practical utility for those patients who require immediate access to whole-plant cannabis and its variety of naturally-occurring compounds.

    33 responses to “More States Move Forward With CBD-Only Measures, But Will They Help Patients?”

    1. kevin says:

      legal to have but still illegal to produce. also illegal to transport here from any other state.hmm.what would you call this type of scenario ?

    2. TheOracle says:

      Not really, but the politicians will try to spin it like it helps patients, like enough for a couple of choice photo opportunities to get them re-elected.

      It’s the camel’s nose in the prohibitionist tent. May the fleas of a thousand camels infest the armpits of each prohibitionist. Scratch, scratch.

    3. Ray says:

      We need to recognize this plant as medicine and stop arresting people who use it. This racist law was created in 1937 by Harry Anslinger as a reason to lock up blacks, Mexicans and American Indians.

      Up until the 1930’s people of color were killed for almost any reason you could think of. This prohibition was created to imprison people of color after the 1930’s because the law said “ya can’t just kill them any more”.

      Warning Graphic:

      It’s time to end the unscientific prohibition, and at minimum reschedule, regulate and tax this commodity.

      What about the children? Nancy Grace needs to know that every day children suffer because the federal government is withholding medicine that works. It is withholding medicine to children, and everyone else while using a prohibition created without science.

      If anything cannabis prohibition should have been repealed long ago and we should be fighting for alcohol consumption right now.

    4. DC says:

      or is it part of a secret plot to debase cannabis genetics? bwahaha …

    5. tolduso says:

      Thank You Dr. Gupta!

    6. Miles says:

      I do not believe that allowing only CBD is the correct approach. THC has properties that can positively affect one’s mental state (e.g. depression, stress relief) and should also be allowed for that reason.

      I believe that the combination of THC & CBD is the optimal way to go for most people.

    7. end of the rope says:

      One thing is certain, the next Election Day for most of our elected elite will be a day of revelation. Their behavior on the medical and legalization issues have been some of the most blatantly corrupt political pandering that has ever been witnessed. It is impossible for a single elected or appointed official to stand and declare ignorance on the beneficial use of cannabis, and yet with a straight face there they stand like a lying toddler. We all know the truth. We all have known it for some time now. Waiting for an alarm to go off to wake up Lady Justice is not going to happen. If the politicians want to remain in office then they need to start doing there jobs and stop supporting the corporate complex of corruption. Next stop California, land of Medical Cannabis, sunny days and a decent nights sleep.

    8. Anne says:

      DC says: or is it part of a secret plot to debase cannabis genetics?

      Anne comment: A good way to describe it! Why is it okay to use MJ for Cannabinoids not THC
      THC is the exact medicine which cures my ills!

    9. Anne says:

      If only Pres. Obama would reschedule this Herb
      In just a short time; thousands of clinical trials and studies would be available to all!!
      I too am interested in trying some MMJ edibles

    10. Ray says:

      Does anyone know what happens to a child with Dravet Syndrome?

      They will eventually seize so much their brain will burn out and the child will die. If they survive they risk a life so brain damaged that the parents usually wind up taking care of their child until they grow so big that they have to be institutionalized.

      My friends son had seizures so bad as an infant that he is now in a wheelchair, can’t feed himself, move any body part, use a toilet, or smile. He can’t even thank his parents for all the love and care they provided him, for 18 years.

      America should be growing high CBD cannabis crops and ship CBD oil by the 55 gallon drum to these children. If it works, even for just a few children, than let’s just make it happen.

      @Paul: even if the FDA will not give CBD oil approval why can’t we sell it as an herbal supplement?

      @Norm: now it’s about the children. Tell Nancy how our politicians are holding back medicine from our kids because we are still a nation of racist people.