In Utah it’s called “Charlee’s Law.” In Alabama, it’s known as “Carly’s Law.”
In traditionally conservative states all across the country, new laws inspired by sick children are being drawn up and passed, representing a new frontier for medical marijuana treatments in places where strict anti-pot laws remain.
At the heart of these new bills is a low-THC cannabis oil whose supporters cite as a promising treatment for pediatric epilepsy. The extract is high in cannabidiol, or CBD, but low in THC, the principal psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
Utah governor Gary Herbert signed a bill last week that will allow “Utahns with epilepsy trial access to a non-intoxicating, seizure-stopping cannabis oil,” according to the Salt Lake Tribune. A CBD law passed unanimously in Alabama’s House of Representatives on March 20, and is expected to be signed into law by the governor. CBD-specific laws in South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi have all moved forward within the last week.
The sudden shift in policy in these Republican strongholds is a result of the rapid growth of CBD extracts like “Charlotte’s Web,” an oil produced by a Colorado Springs dispensary that’s been shown to help alleviate seizures in children. Yet as the 20 states that now allow medical marijuana know, these new laws all operate in the legal grey area between federal drug laws and those adopted by states.
The new CBD bills all tackle this issue in different ways. Utah’s law does not allow for medical marijuana production within the state, so those looking to acquire CBD oil will need to do so by purchasing it from out-of-state, likely from next-door-neighbor Colorado. However, Colorado’s law restricts the sale of medical marijuana to those with residency, creating a challenging scenario for those hoping to purchase the CBD oil known as Alepsia.
“Because the patient must also possess a Utah Hemp Registration Card in order to bring Alepsia home to Utah, one parent would need to become a Colorado resident to apply for a medical marijuana card to purchase Alepsia in Colorado, and another parent would need to remain a Utah resident and apply for a hemp registration card to bring Alepsia home to Utah,” the Salt Lake Tribune reports.
The law passed in Alabama takes a different approach. According to AL.com, “The bill will allow a $1 million study at the University of Alabama at Birmingham to examine the effectiveness of marijuana-derived oil to treat seizure disorders such as epilepsy.” CBD bills moving through the state legislatures in Tennessee and Kentucky are also tied to university trials.
Although these new laws in socially conservative states would seem to indicate an increased acceptance of marijuana’s medical properties, some pro-marijuana activists say they may actually hinder medical marijuana and legalization efforts.
"Is it better than nothing? Potentially,” Mason Tvert, a leader in Colorado’s legalization campaign, told the Denver Post. “But if it means there is no longer a pressing need for comprehensive medical marijuana legislation, these will be a net negative."
For the parents of children suffering from constant seizures, however, drug policy debates are an unfortunate side effect in what should be a time of relief, as the medical community continues to uncover more about these extremely promising CBD treatments.
As Rita Wooton, whose son suffers severe siezures, told WDRB.com in Kentucky, "I never thought that this would ever be feasible for any of us; people, parents, moms, dads, adults across this state. But now it is. We're just really, really excited."