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Monday, September 8, 2014

CBD-Only Legislation in the U.S. - by Chelsea Shaker


     There has been an influx of legislation in the United States regarding high-CBD ONLY legislation for consideration for medical marijuana bills. Beginning in the state of Utah in March of this year, twelve states have medical marijuana laws on the books that restrict the use of medical marijuana to high-CBD strains only, with an almost impossible ratio of low THC:CBD for providers to maintain. 

     North Carolina is the newest state to adopt a CBD only bill. Governor Pat McCrory signed into law the legislation, which passed unanimously in the Senate and a 112-1 vote in the House. Under the bill, families and their neurologists will have to register with the state of North Carolina to possess and administer the CBD oil. Physicians are required to participate in a state pilot study for the effectiveness of the CBD treatments on seizure disorders. 

     Initially, the bill was to become legal as of October 1st, but lawmakers moved the date to allow families to begin using the treatments. The Department of Health and Human Services will be issuing draft rules for the pilot study. The law calls for: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University, Wake Forest University, and East Carolina University, to work with the registered neurologists on clinical studies of the CBD oil. Those universities also can start to cultivate the CBD plants and research the plant itself. 

     Two states, Minnesota and New York, have adopted a no-smoking standard for their medical marijuana programs. Patients are restricted to other forms of medical marijuana, such as vaporizing, edibles, oils and tinctures. The ban on smoking has been linked to those states determinations that smoking is not beneficial for the medical relief of their condition; although that claim has been discredited by numerous physicians, organizations and others. It seems as though lawmakers have found their niche’ for considering medical marijuana legislation, not being made out to be “the bad guy” for not taking up the issue, and still getting a piece of the pie or acknowledgement.

     In plenty of conditions, the active form of THC is beneficial to relieve their symptoms; in many cases, it is the component in relieving their ailments. The ban of smoking medical marijuana lays the ground work for companies to mainstream high CBD and make a mint off of producing the low THC strains.  No caregiver system, no at-home grows. No cottage industry. You simply can’t grow it- it must be provided from an approved stream-lined company in these two particular states. Minnesota is acting slightly different, not yet outlining how they will be receiving medical marijuana. If the federal government does not supply it, as specified as Minnesota’s “preference” then it will go on to a cultivator in the state, as “THC gets you high” is equivalent to the new “Reefer Madness”. The issues have only shifted. Should we be proud of our efforts at this point? Sure. Lawmakers are now supporting CBD as a success, and in many cases, and an immediate necessity, but labeling any other component of cannabis not necessary and not helpful is hurting the movement as a whole. 

     As CBD-only legislation is not perfect, plenty of activists  are ensuring a safe, effective means of treatment for seriously ill children and others with seizures with the proposed CBD laws. What may strike a sour note with some activists are the ineffective efforts to also ensure the use of the whole plant for treatment. CBD alone is not enough to treat every condition. 
Lawmakers are afraid to get too indulged in medical marijuana, activists are afraid to over-indulge the lawmakers to prove their point. Perhaps they’re settling with what they CAN get passed for legislation, for now. Baby steps are necessary in certain circumstances, especially with conservative states. 

     However, as reefer madness continues, and CBD only legislation unfolds in states, the mindset of THC only gets you high is very much at the forefront of the CBD debate. Should we allow a form of legislation that halts the efforts for whole plant rights, we as a country must work extra hard to prove to these lawmakers that the whole plant is beneficial and must be taken into account.  Without the plant itself, you wouldn’t have the CBD. Supporting and promoting the efforts to get the whole plant recognized, while maintaining supportive for CBD legislation, will ensure a future for the whole plant.

     The only FDA-approved form of marijuana currently allowed in the United States is the synthetic THC capsule called Marinol. It is marketed as a legal pharmaceutical alternative to natural cannabis. It is a capsule infused with synthetic Delta-9 THC and sesame oil. Doses range from 2.5 mg, 5mg, and 10mg doses. Cancer patients suffering from the complications to Chemotherapy, AIDS patients, and Cachexia patients have all benefitted from the THC capsule. Although there has been some debate on the effectiveness of Marinol vs. “conventional marijuana”, it is clear by patients, the federal government, and the FDA that there are benefits from the cannabinoid Delta-9 THC, which have been overlooked by current legislation that only outlines positives for CBD. 

     “Animal and human studies have shown CBD to possess anti-convulsant properties, particularly in the treatment of epilepsy.5 Natural extracts of CBD, when administered in combination with THC, significantly reduce pain, spasticity and other symptoms in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients unresponsive to standard treatment medications.” 
     D. Wade et al. 2004. Do cannabis-based medicinal extracts have general or specific effects on symptoms in multiple sclerosis? A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study on 160 patients. Multiple Sclerosis 10: 339-340; D. Wade et al. 2003. A preliminary controlled study to determine whether whole-plant cannabis extracts can improve intractable neurogenic symptoms. 

Journal of Clinical Rehabilitation 17: 21-29.
     “Clinical data indicates that the synergism of these compounds is likely more efficacious than the administration of synthetic THC alone.”

     E. Williamson. 2001. Synergy and other interactions in phytomedicines. Phytomedicine: International Journal of Phytotherapy and Phytopharmacology 8: 401-409.

     The U.S. Federal Government obtained a patent in October 2003 for marijuana, US Patent 6630507: 

     “Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as Neuro-protectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia.”

•  Utah- March 25th Gov Herbert signed HB105, known as the Plants Extracts Amendment, into law. The first state to legalize CBD laws. 

•  Alabama – April 1st, Gov Bentley signed Carly’s Law, SB 174, which calls for Univ of Alabama to research CBD 

•  Kentucky – April 11th Gov Beshear signed Sb124 into law. Univ of Kentucky and Univ of Louisville med schools will research CBD with trial program

•  Wisconsin- April 16th Gov Walker signed SB 726, still unclear who will distribute CBD plants and oil

•  Mississippi – April 17th Gov Bryant signed CBD bill, which calls for National Center for Natural Products Research in Oxford to produce medicine

•  Tennessee – May, Gov Haslam signed a law to direct Tennessee Tech Univ to create research program for CBD. Tenn. Tech must provide oil to other schools of medicine and complete the research by 2018

•  Georgia – CBD legislation failed a Senate vote, but passed HB 885. Bill has been revived as a research study program and will work with Britain’s GW Pharmaceuticals and Georgia Regents.

•  South Carolina – May 28 – Gov Haley did not veto after unanimous Senate vote and 92-5 House vote. Requires clinical trials for Univ. of S. Carolina

•  Iowa- May 30- Gov Branstad signed bill. CBD bill is strictly for seizures and epilepsy. Patients can access a 6-month supply (32 oz) and calls for Univ of Iowa to conduct CBD research. Patients will have to go out of state to get the oil. 

•  Florida- June 16th Gov Scott signed CBD bill to grow, test, and dispense oils under patient registry program. Not limited to epilepsy/seizures, extends to Parkinson’s, Alzheimers, PTSD, and cancer patients.

•  Missouri – May 1st passed unanimously in Senate and 136-12 in House. Oil is considered “hemp extract”. Calls for research programs via universities. Gov Nixon expected to sign bill

•  New York – June 3rd, Gov Cuomo signed bill to work with GW Pharmaceuticals for Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastuat syndrome. GW Pharm is working with clinical trials at NYU’s Langone Med Center on 60 children and Epidiolex, GW’s CBD product. 

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