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Medical Marijuana Policy

More States Move Forward With CBD-Only Measures, Does It Help Patients?

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(photo credit: hempista.com)

By Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director

Lawmakers in Alabama and Utah recently approved legislation seeking to authorize the physician-supervised use of varieties of cannabis and/or extracts high in the non-psychotropic cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD). Both measures, which I previously summarized as ‘largely unworkable,‘ have now been signed into law.

In recent days, lawmakers in three additional states — Kentucky, Mississippi, and Wisconsin — have similarly signed off on CBD-explicit legislation. These measures are now awaiting signatures from each states’ respective Governors.

Similar to Alabama’s SB 174 (aka ‘Carley’s Law), which only permits the use of CBD by prescription during the course of an FDA-approved clinical trial, the pending Kentucky and Wisconsin bills may also be classified as ‘research-centric’ measures. Kentucky’s SB 124 permits physicians “practicing at a hospital or associated clinic affiliated with a Kentucky public university” to “dispense” cannabidiol during the course of an FDA-approved clinical trial. Wisconsin’s AB 726 similarly limits those who may legally dispense CBD to only include those physicians who have obtained an FDA-issued investigational drug permit to prescribe it. In Tennessee, lawmakers are also close to finalizing similar language (included in HB 2461 and SB 2531) that seeks to allow university clinical researchers to “manufacture” and “dispense” high-CBD cannabis oil “as part of a clinical research study on the treatment of intractable seizures.” (By contrast, separate, broader medical cannabis measures seeking to authorize the use of the whole plant failed this year in all three states.)

As I’ve previously written here and here, it is unlikely that specific changes in state law will stimulate these type of proposed clinical trials from taking place in these states any time soon. Because CBD is acknowledged by federal regulators to be classified as a schedule I prohibited substance, multiple federal agencies — including the FDA, DEA, NIDA (US National Institute of Drug Abuse), and PHS (Public Health Service) must all sign off on any clinical investigation of the cannabinoid — a process that typically takes severalyears. A keyword search of FDA-approved clinical trials using the terms “cannabidiol” and “United States” yields fewer than ten ongoing human trials involving CBD — less than half of which are assessing its potential therapeutic application. (Two additional safety trials assessing the use of GW Pharmaceutical’s patented high-CBD formulation Epidiolex in children with severe epilepsy are also ongoing.)

Unlike the above-mentioned measures, Mississippi’s HB 1231, does not seek to encourage state-sponsored clinical trials. Rather, the measure exempts specific high-CBD formulated oils “that contain more than fifteen percent cannabidiol [and] … no more than one-half of one percent of tetrahydrocannabinol” from the state’s definition of a schedule I prohibited substance. However, like Utah’s HB 105 (aka ‘Charlee’s Law), Mississippi’s pending law does not provide guidance as to where patients could legally obtain such extracts. Though such high-CBD products are presently available in a limited number of medical cannabis states (such as in California and Colorado), these extracts are typically only available to in-state residents who possess authorization from a physician licensed to practice in that state. (Although Colorado state law also allows for a recreational cannabis market, which may be legally accessed by out-of-state residents, at present time such high-CBD concentrates are seldom available at retail outlets.)

Additional cannabidiol-specific measures also remain pending in Florida and South Carolina, among other states. NORML will report on these measures as they progress and we will continue to express caution in regards to their practical utility for those patients who require immediate access to whole-plant cannabis and its variety of naturally-occurring compounds.

Source: NORML - make a donation

  • Joe

    The Alabama legislation is a joke. It essentially only allows RESEARCH into the use of concentrates so the patients are still sitting and waiting on something that has to be approved by the Feds who will never approve it because there are decades of research requests just sitting in limbo already. The signed bill was to get the petitioners to shut the hell up and go away. I have watched the whole thing in disbelief and have gotten nothing back from my reps but smoke and mirrors. Loretta Nall has been trying to get our elected officials to see common sense and not reefer madness forever without success and I hate that my “peers” are still living in the stone age on this topic and that they so blatantly thumb their noses at their constituents. Thanks ma and pa southern voters for perpetuating the notion that we are the most ignorant state. Fat and stupid, god we are pathetic.

    • Ron

      Thank god for Mississippi, huh?

    • Ian Mackenzie

      as is Kentucky

  • Ian Mackenzie

    the KY law is a total farce, it help so few people, I do think Gov. Beshear broke his arm patting himself on the back with his signing of the law. it helps no one but his corporate sponsors

  • Ian Mackenzie

    it’s time to END THE PROHIBITION

  • Stage 3

    Give me the whole plant or give me death!