House panel OKs controversial hemp oil drug

Posted June 18, 2014

Steve Carlin of Clayton asks lawmakers to approve CBD oil to help his daughter, Zora.

— A state House panel on Wednesday approved a measure to allow the use of CBD oil for medical treatment of seizure disorders.

CBD stands for cannabidiol, a compound found in marijuana. It's being increasingly used by doctors to treat intractable seizure disorders, especially in children, for which other therapies are ineffective and often toxic themselves.

Sponsor Rep. Pat McElraft, R-Carteret, was in tears as she explained in a House committee meeting the need for the bill.

"Some of [the children] have seizures up to 200, 300 a week, and their parents have to sit there and watch them go through it. It’s life-threatening,"  McElraft said.

The measure, House Bill 1220, has faced opposition from some who say it opens the door to legalizing medical marijuana. But McElraft said the plant used to make CBD has been genetically engineered to produce a lot of CBD but very little THC, which is the psychotropic substance in marijuana.

In fact, she said, the plant is so low in THC “that it’s not even considered to be marijuana any more" but is referred to as hemp instead.

"You could drink the entire [bottle of medicine] and never get high," she told the House Health Committee. "This is nothing. It would make a drug addict very disappointed if they ever got hold of it."

The measure would allow doctors in North Carolina to give seizure patients a CBD oil called Charlotte's Web. McElraft said it has shown real promise in use in Colorado, where it is legal, cutting seizures in children down to almost nothing. She said families now are forced to travel to Colorado or even move there to receive the treatment.

McElraft said three universities in the state have also been selected by the FDA to run clinical trials of a CBD compound.

The committee heard testimony from Steve Carlin, whose 5-year-old daughter, Zora, has Dravet syndrome, a rare, incurable, debilitating epilepsy disorder. 

"The medicines we're giving her today are ripping her apart," Carlin said, adding that none of them have worked.

He said he and wife have to sleep in shifts to monitor Zora to make sure she stays alive through her seizures. She has 40 to 60 of them a day and functions at the level of a 2-year-old because of developmental delays caused by the disease.

"The CBD oil has an 85 percent chance of turning this around for my daughter," Carlin said. "Please, I am begging you. I am on my knees for thousands of kids and people."

No one from the public spoke against the proposal, and no one on the committee did, either. It passed unanimously on a voice vote. It will be heard next in the House Finance Committee.


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  • ctatum2 Jun 20, 2014

    I live in Denver, Colo. -- and I've certainly seen this before. I urge voters in my home state of North Carolina to put a stop to this bill because it proposes a structure operating outside the bounds of law and responsible science -- and one I know from personal experience leads to the recreational marijuana industry. We can help MORE N.C. children with intractable epilepsy by giving them purified, PHARMACY-GRADE CBD oil that's called Epidiolex, produced by GW Pharmaceuticals and dispensed by peer-reviewed, local researchers under the auspices of FDA approval. The states of NY and GA have gone this route. Even better: the trials are implemented quickly, and children receiving public assistance can participate -- meaning more can be helped.
    Why reject safer, law-abiding, faster and cheaper for "Charlotte's Web?" Because this isn't really about responsible medicine. This is hiding behind severely ill children to expand an industry whose chief profits come from addiction.

  • lavenderdejectedmoon Jun 19, 2014

    This is a great start for North Carolina. Hopefully all of us that would benefit from medicinal marijuana will get the chance.

  • amiles1 Jun 19, 2014

    Thank you! Hopefully my cousin will benefit from this. She's on list when it becomes available. Just to see her walk again!!!

  • Billy Smith Jun 19, 2014
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    Democrats been oiled up for years. Does this explain the 'Moral Monday' herd.

  • Scott Mace Jun 19, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    EXCEPT: it's already taxed, and that tax money goes to local law enforcement and the General Fund:

    BUT, since it's criminally illegal to possess it, how many people do you think pay the tax?

  • Jackson Smith Jun 19, 2014
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    I am shocked. The GA committee approved a measure to help people that does not provide for pre- payment to their reelection. This is too simple. A product that is not habit forming, does not alter mood, and reduces seizures. This must be a first for our GOP controlled GA.

  • miseem Jun 19, 2014

    View quoted thread

    You have not seen the final bill. I'm sure they will manage to tack on a couple of other unrelated measures before the final vote.

  • George Herbert Jun 19, 2014
    user avatar

    Seems like the headline is wrong. I would not consider something controversial when no one speaks against it and the bill to allow it passes a committee unanimously.

  • T-Man Jun 19, 2014

    Well done House Panel! Considering all of the derivatives of other illegal substances (specifically opioids) that are currently used medicinally, it boggles the mind how derivatives of marijuana could remain illegal.

  • jmcdow2792 Jun 19, 2014

    This should never have been a problem in the first place. I don't and don't plan to use marijana but an adult should be able to choose to use something that does not harm anyone else. If they use it and drive or do other activities that harm people there are already laws against that. For year coffee was considered harmful but it wasn't illegal.