Bill legalizing marijuana oil heads to Senate floor

Posted June 25, 2014

Marijuana oil, CBD

— A Senate 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. The oil is being increasingly used by doctors to treat intractable seizure disorders, especially in children, for which other therapies are ineffective and often toxic themselves.

"This is going to give them an opportunity to move forward and get on with their lives," said Steve Carlin, whose 5-year-old daughter, Zora, has Dravet syndrome, a rare, incurable, debilitating epilepsy disorder.

"I'm on my knees here. I'm begging you," Carlin told members of the Senate Rules Committee.

House Bill 1220, which cleared the House last week, has faced opposition from some who say it would open the door to legalizing medical marijuana in North Carolina. But sponsor Rep. Pat McElraft, R-Carteret, said the plant used to make CBD has been genetically engineered to produce a lot of CBD but very little THC, the psychotropic substance in marijuana.

"There is no way this is going to be something a drug person wants," McElraft said, noting someone could drink a bottle of CBD oil without getting high.

The bill doesn't even mention what McElraft called "the M-word," because the marijuana plant has been altered so much to produce CBD that it's legally considered hemp.

Under the bill, which is expected to be debated Thursday on the Senate floor, families and their neurologists would have to register with the state to possess and administer the CBD oil. The Senate proposal also would require the physicians to participate in a state pilot study of the effectiveness of the treatment on seizure disorders.

The law also calls on the 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. Universities also could start growing hemp to conduct research on the plant itself.

Neurologists on the state registry would be responsible for bringing the CBD oil into the state to dispense, and senators questioned how that would work since it might have to pass through jurisdictions where it is considered illegal.

McElraft said she believes the federal government is "looking the other way" on CBD oil and its medicinal uses.

Noting some North Carolina families have moved to Colorado, where the treatment is legal, and would want to return home if lawmakers approve the measure, she said she hopes the state wouldn't pursue criminal cases against them if they brought any CBD oil back with them to last until the registry and pilot study are set up.

McElraft also noted that the state could save money by legalizing the CBD oil, saying that caring for each child who suffers debilitating seizures costs the Medicaid program about $125,000 a year.

Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, the gruff chairman of the Rules Committee, choked up as he told lawmakers immediately after the panel passed the bill that his oldest son suffered a seizure 20 years ago while the family was on a trip.

"If I can do anything to help any parent not have to experience that night or what these families experience daily, we're going to do it," Apodaca said.


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  • PaxMan Jun 26, 2014

    If they're going to legalize it for the treatment of one particular condition, they should legalize it for ALL treatments. Our lawmakers need to drag themselves into the 21st century and stop being hysterical over the "m-word". People need medical cannabis, and it's only humane to allow them to be able to get it without fear of being arrested.

  • christiehepfner Jun 26, 2014

    We need this for cancer patients also!!! Please please please pass this bill!!!

  • Stacie Hagwood Jun 25, 2014
    user avatar

    Glad to see some common sense.

  • SomewhereLeftOfRTP Jun 25, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Well, if you say that "natural plants" aren't drugs, then I guess digitalis from foxglove isn't a drug. Neither is opium from poppies, nicotine from tobacco, psilocybin from mushrooms -- sorry, but I think "it can't be a drug if it's from a natural plant" is a silly position to take.

  • wufpaker Jun 25, 2014

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    FYI, by definition a drug is any chemical agent that affects the function of living things. Many folks don't realize it but alcohol is classified as a drug as well as nicotine (which is why the FDA is getting involved in cigarettes).

  • Mods Hate Me Jun 25, 2014

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    It doesn't seem as scary if you call it a plant.

  • ziva Jun 25, 2014

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    LOL! This just made my day!! : )

  • Lee Co Rat Jun 25, 2014

    I am scared if they legalize it that with taxes the price will go up, I can barely afford it now...

  • Peter Mescher Jun 25, 2014
    user avatar

    The question begs to be asked... if a state like NC can pass a law allowing this stuff, why are the feds still too timid about anything related to MJ that they aren't running studies at the NIH about this? (And working to get an FDA-approved treatment put through the works?)

  • ncouterbanks69 Jun 25, 2014

    "Wouldn't it be nice if firearms were regulated as much?"

    I missed where the right to bear dope was guaranteed in the constitution.