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Cannabis Oil Bill Passes Out of Idaho Senate Committee

“It was very close in committee. I’m going to have to make some changes to get a vote on the floor."

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A Idaho Senate committee narrowly approved a revamped medical cannabis oil bill that could open the door for seizure patients to try a treatment that for some stands as their last hope.

“They’ve got some big hearts and compassion. It takes some courage to support this kind of bill,” Clare Carey said of lawmakers who approved the measure.

“I’m so grateful to the senators that supported this and did not get distracted,” said the Boise mother of three, who has lobbied lawmakers for two years to pass a cannabidiol oil bill on behalf of her 10-year old daughter Alexis, who suffers from life-threatening seizures.

“[Cannabidiol oil] is a safe product that will help so many people,” she said.

The Senate State Affairs committee passed Senate Bill 1146 on March 13 with a 5-4 vote after considering another version of the legislation that lawmakers sent back to its sponsor when law enforcement and prosecutors called it too broad.

“It was very close in committee. I’m going to have to make some changes to get a vote on the floor,” the bill's sponsor, Boise Republican Sen. Curt McKenzie, told Boise Weekly.

McKenzie’s original bill, SB 1106, outlined exemptions to the state’s Controlled Substances Act that would have given patients and caregivers the OK to use and possess low-THC, non-psychoactive CBD oil to treat epilepsy. No lawmakers challenged the intent of the law but police and prosecutors said the measure would muddle enforcement efforts and render drug sniffing dogs, which can’t distinguish between cannabis and marijuana, useless.

McKenzie came back with SB 1146, an entirely new bill that gives patients and caregivers a defense rather than a legal exemption.

“It does it in a way that doesn't open the door to abuse of other drugs and doesn't change the way current laws are enforced,” McKenzie said.

The latest measure would give patients and their caregivers a definitive defense if prosecuted for using or possessing CBD oil that has a THC content of less than 0.3 percent. It would not add any additional bureaucracy and require that a patient has a doctor’s recommendation.

Some lawmakers thought the bill’s definition of who could use CBD oil was too broad so McKenzie said he’ll bring an amended version before the Senate that narrows the conditions of use to those suffering from intractable seizures.

Carey told BW that she wants to give Alexis the chance to try a treatment that has been shown effective in controlling seizures without risking jail time. She notes that products containing less than 0.3 percent THC are already legal and on market shelves, but she and other caregivers want their children to have the option of accessing clean, organic, laboratory tested and verified CBD oil grown specifically to treat their children’s disorders.

McKenzie, meanwhile, wants to see doctors and patients make medical decisions without government interference.

“The government shouldn’t stand in the way of these parents having a treatment option that has been shown to have life changing effects,” McKenzie said.