By Steve Elliott
The Florida House Judiciary Committee on Monday approved a plan to allow doctors to authorize patients to use a non-psychoactive marijuana extract which provides relief from seizures and pain.
HB 843, sponsored by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Shalimar), passed on a 15-3 vote over some determined opposition, reports Health News Florida. Florida Surgeon General John Armstrong opposed the bill, and warned the committee that it is "unwise" for the Legislature to allow untested drugs to market rather than going through the lengthy process of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval.
"We must be wary of unintended consequences and remember that first we must do no harm," said Armstrong, who also heads the Florida Department of Health. Anecdotal reports have indicated that cannabidiol (CBD) oil is quite effective in quelling seizures, and parents like it because it doesn't get their children high, as would THC, the other major medicinal cannabinoid in marijuana.
The bill would set up four regional organizations around Florida that could grow, test and dispense CBD oil. It wouldn't have enough THC in it to get you high, but would be rich in CBD, which appears to have anti-seizure effects.
By Steve Elliott
Alabama lawmakers on Wednesday took one step towards legalizing a marijuana extract that doesn't produce a high, but can be used medically.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved by a 6-3 vote a bill known as Carly's Law which would allow people with certain illnesses to possess concentrated cannabis oil containing cannabidiol (CBD), a nonpsychoactive cannabinoid, reports The Associated Press.
The oil contains only trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive component of marijuana which gets you high.
Parents of children with seizure disorders including severe epileptic conditions such as Dravet syndrome are supporting the legislation. Anecdotal evidence from Colorado and elsewhere suggests that CBD oil can greatly reduce the incidence and severity of epileptic seizures.
Carly's Law, named after Carly Chandler, a child in Hoover, Alabama who could benefit from its passage, would give patients and parents a defense should they be charged with marijuana possession because of the CBD oil.
Carly's father is championing the bill in hopes that he can treat his daughter's severe seizures -- due to the rare disorder CDKL5 -- with CBD. "It's truly a medicine and it can help thousands of children and people in Alabama," Dustin Chandler said.
By Steve Elliott
Moriah Barnhart's determination to help her 2-year-old daughter, Dahlia, fight a cancerous brain tumor led them to become part of a new social phenomenon: medical marijuana refugees.
Within weeks of Dahlia being diagnosed, Barnhart packed the family's bags to move from Tampa, Florida, to Memphis, Tennessee, where the toddler could undergo treatment at St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, reports Kelli Grant at CNBC. While in Memphis, Barnhart learned through her research that medical marijuana was a worthy treatment, and might mitigate the harsh effects of chemotherapy.
"It just was the safest and most viable, effective option," Barnhart said. "But it was illegal in Tennessee and Florida."
Thus the Barnharts joined the ranks of marijuana refugees who have relocated or are planning to move in order to gain safe access to medicinal cannabis. Twenty states and the District of Columbia currently allow the medical use of marijuana for certain conditions, and several other states have such laws being considered this year.
Advocates say they hear from plenty of families who move for safe access. "As soon as we have the intake form up, we're swamped with requests," said Lindsey Rinehart, cofounder of the Undergreen Railroad, organized to help patients and their families defray the expenses of moving to medical marijuana states.
Rinehart herself had to move from Idaho to Oregon last summer to treat her multiple sclerosis with cannabis.
By Steve Elliott
A Republican state senator in Kentucky on Wednesday said that state lawmakers should look at whether oil extracts from marijuana can provide medicinal benefits.
Measures to legalize cannabis oil stand a much better chance of passing the Legislature than bills to legalize medical marijuana as a plant, said Sen. Julie Denton (R-Loiuisville), who chairs the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, reports Mike Wynn at The Courier-Journal.
"People need to get comfortable with something that they don't feel threatened by, that they can understand and that they can support rather than going from 0 to 60 all in one fell swoop," she said. (I would suggest to Sen. Denton that her job is to educate her constituents, rather than dumb-down legislation so as not to alarm them.)
The committee heard nearly an hour's worth of testimony from advocates who said the cannabis plant (and its oils) can treat medical conditions ranging from epilepsy to diabetes.
Sen. Denton said that cannabis oil is more likely to win support in this year's session because of its low levels of THC, the primary psychoactive component in marijuana. (She has evidently heard about CBD oil, and has incorrectly assumed that all cannabis oil is CBD oil, but of course there is also THC oil and full-extract oil which contains all the cannabinoids).
By Steve Elliott
A mother in Colorado says she's doing the best she can to help her three-year-old son fight cancer, but now a doctor may turn her in to the state because she's refusing chemotherapy treatments for the child and is instead using cannabis oil.
Landon Riddle was diagnosed with leukemia, according to his mother, Sierra, reports CBS Denver. After telling Sierra that her son had only a few days to live, doctors placed him on chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Sierra said those treatments helped reduce the tumors, but made her son very sick, including night terrors.
She decided to stop the chemotherapy and give Landon cannabis oil capsules. "I am willing to do whatever I have to do to make sure my child gets to live another day and gets to have that relief and have that quality of life that he deserves," Sierra said.
Under the cannabis oil treatments, Landon now looks healthier and is feeling much better. But in a letter posted online, Sierra wrote, "They want to take away my son because I am refusing chemo!"
She had seen a doctor the day before. "They do not see cannabis as a treatment for cancer," she said.
The cannabis oil Sierra gives Landon is a concentrate made from the marijuana plant, and doesn't contain the psychoactive ingredient, THC.