A bill legalizing the use of cannabidiol oil in Idaho passed the Idaho State House with bipartisan support. Right now the bill lies in Idaho Senator Lee Heider’s desk drawer.
Both how it got there and where it is going has Idahoans wondering — is there a place for medically prescribed hemp derivatives in Idaho?
Cannabidiol oil, also known as CBD, is a hemp derivative containing primarily cannabidiol and trace amounts of THC, the psychoactive compound is found in hemp, that does not produce a psychoactive or hallucinogenic effect, according to the text of House bill 577.
There is some confusion surrounding what cannabis, marijuana, hemp, THC and CBD are and how they are connected. Medical News Today explains that CBD and THC are both compounds in cannabis (marijuana and hemp are both cannabis plants).
THC is the active ingredient in marijuana and hemp that creates a high. CBD, however, is not psychoactive and does not have any known side effects other than slight drowsiness. While CBD comes from cannabis, it has little to no THC.
According to the National Library of Medicine, Crohn’s disease, chronic pain and seizure disorders are some of the illnesses doctors can treat with CBD under the bill. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare proposed this bill.
The question this bill poses is: if marijuana is illegal, is a medical marijuana derivative such as CBD oil legal?
CBD oil is nothing new to Idaho. A similar bill from 2015 was proposed by members of the community but never made it past its first reading. This year, however, the bill has made it much further.
The bill passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support with a 59-11 majority vote on Feb. 28. The bill was shut down in the Senate by Sen. Heider in a closed-door meeting before it was given a reading in the March 1 public meeting.
“I feel like it really is opening the door to marijuana in our state,” Heider said in an interview with the Spokesman-Review. “We are the bastion of freedom from marijuana in our state, and I like living here.”
Others feel quite differently. In an interview with the Idaho Freedom Foundation, pro-CBD parents shared their experience.
“Our son has been through so many pharmaceuticals (with) so many horrible side effects … but we know that CBD oil works,” said Holli Bunderson. “It’s working for him.”
Bunderson lives in Bear Lake County, Idaho. Her son suffers from seizures, and they use CBD oil provided by a medical trial to prevent his seizures.
“His last seizure was one and a half hours because he was off CBD oil,” Bunderson said. “We need the legislature to do the right thing.”
Although the bill was shut down in the Senate, there is still a chance that the bill will have another reading. Since the bill was shut down, Heider has admitted that holding a closed-door meeting about the bill was a violation of the Idaho Open Meeting Law, according to the Associated Press.
Heider said that the current status of the bill is “in my drawer.”
In the Idaho legislature, not scheduling a hearing on a bill will effectively kill it. Therefore, Heider has the option not to schedule the bill, having the same effect as shutting it down in the original hearing.
Currently, CBD oil is allowed in 46 states for medical use, according to the Hill, making Idaho one of four states that do not allow medical CBD oil.