Marijuana

Thursday, April 16, 2015

UPDATE: Otter Vetoes Cannabis Oil Bill

Posted By on Thu, Apr 16, 2015 at 5:50 PM

UPDATE: April 16, 2015

After a long, emotional fight through the 2015 session of the Idaho Legislature where proponents of Senate Bill 1146aa ultimately secured passage of the measure which would provide a legal defense for parents of children who use cannabis oil for relief from severe epileptic seizures, Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter vetoed the bill in the late afternoon hour of April 16, 2015.

The bill had been the subject of some of the most emotional testimony of the recently-wrapped legislative session and, on more than one occasions, the bill appeared to be dead. Yet proponents of the measure kept pushing on, until both the Idaho House and Senate agreed that it should become law.

But Otter, who had sent his top drug czar to testify against the bill during committee hearings, said "There were too many questions and problems and too few answers and solution in this bill to let it become law."

"Of course I sympathize with the heartbreaking dilemma facing some families trying to cope with the debilitating impacts of disease," wrote Otter with his veto. "[The bill] asks us to legalize the limited use of cannabidiol oil, contrary to federal law. And it asks us to look past the potential of misuse and abuse with criminal intent."

UPDATE: April 6, 2015

Monday afternoon, the Idaho House approved in a 39-30 vote the much-debated Senate Bill 1146aa, which provides a legal defense for parents, grandparents and guardians of children who suffer from severe epileptic seizures when they choose to use a non-psychotropic cannabidiol oil for relief.

"You're going to hear a lot about how the sky is falling if we do this," said sponsor Iona Republican Rep. Tom Loertscher when he introduced the measure to the House floor.

And indeed, opponents pushed back hard in a two-plus hour debate, saying that approval was a "slippery slope" toward legalization of marijuana. But the bill, otherwise known as "Alexis' Law," doesn't legalize anything. Instead, it allows parents and guardians of children who suffer from extreme seizures to formally talk with their physicians, almost always neurologists, about the possibility of using the oil for relief. To date, it has been illegal for Idaho doctors to consult with their patients regarding the oil.

Rexburg Republican Rep. Dell Raybould told a heartbreaking story about how his granddaughter had died in his wife's arms after suffering through seizures through most of her five years.

"She suffered these seizures time and time and time again,' said Raybould. "Had this product been available then, we would have done everything in the world to use it."

But Democratic Rep. John Rusche, a physician, said he would vote against the measure.

"We need to know what we're doing here," said Rusche. "And the scientific study on the use of this drug is sadly lacking."

Boise Republican Rep. Lynn Luker called the issue, "the most difficult of the session and I have to vote no."

But Burley Republican Rep. Fred Wood, a former physician, said his yes vote "wasn't difficult for me at all. I'll sleep well tonight when I vote in favor of this."

Ultimately, Rusche was the only Democrat to join 29 Republicans in voting against the bill.

Monday's vote came less than one week after a stunning reversal from the Idaho House State Affairs Committee, which initially killed the measure in a tie vote but then picked the bill up again and passed it, sending it to the full House. The bill has already passed through the Idaho Senate and now it heads to the desk of Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter who has publicly voiced his opposition to the measure.



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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Cannabis Oil Bill Passes Idaho House Committee

Posted By on Thu, Apr 2, 2015 at 1:50 PM

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The House State Affairs Committee voted 12-4 on Thursday, April 2 to approve a bill that would provide a legal defense for the use of non-psychotropic cannabidiol oil to treat intractable epilepsy and other seizure disorders.

Senate Bill 1146aa was passed by the Senate on March 24 but stalled in the House State Affairs Committee on an 8-8 vote March 30. In a surprising move, the committee decided to revisit the legislation April 2, when several lawmakers switched their votes.

Reps. Ken Andrus, R-Lava Hot Springs; Linden Bateman, R-Idaho Falls; and John McCrostie, D-Garden City, reversed their "nay" positions on the bill and were joined by Rep. Paulette Jordan, D-Plummer, who was absent for the March 30 vote. 

Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa, who opposed the measure on March 30, was not present for the April 2 vote.

Though unusual, the practice of returning to a bill after it has been voted on isn't unheard of.

"Any time a bill is held in committee it can be brought back by a member," said House State Affairs Committee Secretary Kelsey Winder.

McCrostie, who was the only Democrat on the committee to side with Republicans to hold the bill, requested that it be reconsidered.

Otherwise known as "Alexis' Law," SB 1146aa is named for 10-year-old Alexis Carey, who suffers from an intractable form of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome. Her mother, Clare, has lobbied the Legislature for several years to pass a bill that would open the way for parents to legally obtain cannabidiol—a low-THC extract of cannabis—which has been shown to lessen seizures in children with similar conditions.

The bill met with stiff opposition from Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's drug czar, Idaho Office of Drug Policy Director Elisha Figueroa, who told lawmakers on March 30 that "this is not hemp oil you can buy at the Co-op. This is marijuana, a Schedule One drug, and Idaho will be violating federal law if this passes."

Supporters of the bill, including parents and pediatricians, argued during an emotional, marathon public hearing March 30 that cannabidiol offers substantive relief from the symptoms of life-threatening seizure disorders.

Speaking of her 11-year-old daughter Marley, who experiences between two and 100 seizures per day, Natalie Stevens said on March 30 that, "‘Seizure’ means Marley can never be out of my sight; it means that she has scars from biting her tongue all the time; it means that her breathing stops, it means missing school and missing work; it means sleepless nights and agonizing days. Seizures are our prison. We’ll gladly risk this. We’re already in prison. We would rather be arrested and have an affirmative defense."

SB 1146aa now heads to the full House for consideration. According to Winder, that could happen as early as Monday, April 6. 

Here's the full breakdown of the votes on April 2:

Ayes: Reps. Ken Andrus, R-Lava Hot Springs; Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens; Linden Bateman, R-Idaho Falls; Don Cheatham, R-Post Falls; Paulette Jordan, D-Plummer; Tom Loertscher, R-Iona; John McCrostie, D-Garden City; Shannon McMillan, R-Silverton; Pete Nielsen, R-Mountain Home; Kathleen Sims, R-Coeur d'Alene; Elaine Smith, D-Pocatello; Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise

Nays: Reps. Gayle Batt, R-Wilder; Lynn Luker, R-Boise; Joe Palmer, R-Meridian; James Holtzclaw, R-Meridian.

Absent: Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa
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Monday, March 30, 2015

UPDATE: Idaho House Committee Reverses Votes for Cannabis Oil Bill, Giving Measure Renewed Life

Posted By on Mon, Mar 30, 2015 at 7:56 PM

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UPDATE: April 2, 2015

In a stunning reversal, the House State Affairs Committee voted 12-4 on Thursday, April 2 to approve a bill that would provide a legal defense for the use of non-psychotropic cannabidiol oil to treat intractable epilepsy and other seizure disorders.

Senate Bill 1146aa was passed by the Senate on March 24 but stalled in the House State Affairs Committee on an 8-8 vote March 30. In a surprising move, the committee decided to revisit the legislation April 2, when several lawmakers switched their votes.

Reps. Ken Andrus, R-Lava Hot Springs; Linden Bateman, R-Idaho Falls; and John McCrostie, D-Garden City, reversed their "nay" positions on the bill and were joined by Rep. Paulette Jordan, D-Plummer, who was absent for the March 30 vote. 

Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa, who opposed the measure on March 30, was not present for the April 2 vote.

Though unusual, the practice of returning to a bill after it has been voted on isn't unheard of.

"Any time a bill is held in committee it can be brought back by a member," said House State Affairs Committee Secretary Kasey Winder.

McCrostie, who was the only Democrat on the committee to side with Republicans to hold the bill, requested that it be reconsidered.

Otherwise known as "Alexis' Law," SB 1146aa is named for 10-year-old Alexis Carey, who suffers from an intractable form of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome. Her mother, Clare, has lobbied the Legislature for several years to pass a bill that would open the way for parents to legally obtain cannabidiol—a low-THC extract of cannabis—which has been shown to lessen seizures in children with similar conditions.

The bill met with stiff opposition from Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's drug czar, Idaho Office of Drug Policy Director Elisha Figueroa, who told lawmakers on March 30 that "this is not hemp oil you can buy at the Co-op. This is marijuana, a Schedule One drug, and Idaho will be violating federal law if this passes."

Supporters of the bill, including parents and pediatricians, argued during an emotional, marathon public hearing March 30 that cannabidiol offers substantive relief from the symptoms of life-threatening seizure disorders.

Speaking of her 11-year-old daughter Marley, who experiences between two and 100 seizures per day, Natalie Stevens said on March 30 that, "‘Seizure’ means Marley can never be out of my sight; it means that she has scars from biting her tongue all the time; it means that her breathing stops, it means missing school and missing work; it means sleepless nights and agonizing days. Seizures are our prison. We’ll gladly risk this. We’re already in prison. We would rather be arrested and have an affirmative defense."

SB 1146aa now heads to the full House for consideration. According to Winder, that could happen as early as Monday, April 6. 
UPDATE: April 1, 2015

In a surprise move, the Idaho House State Affairs Committee agreed to reconsider a controversial cannabidiol oil bill that died only two days earlier. In effect, when committee members reconvene April 2, they could reverse themselves and approve the measure which could provide an "affirmative defense" for parents who use the oil as relief for the children who suffer severe epileptic seizures.

The bill's future was put into peril March 31 when, after hours of every emotional testimony, the committee deadlocked 8-8, thus putting the bill back into a drawer.

But now, Plummer Democratic Rep. Paulette Jordan, who was absent from the vote, says she supports the bill, and Garden City Democratic Rep. John McCrostie, who initially voted against the bill, now says the measure should be reconsidered.

Committee Chairman Rep. Tom Loertscher cautioned his fellow lawmakers that there would not be any more public testimony on Thursday, just some discussion among committee members and an ultimate vote.

UPDATE: March 30, 2015 7 p.m.

The only thing more dramatic than the testimony in front of the Idaho House State Affairs committee March 30 was the committee’s vote. What started as an early morning hearing in front of the committee - considering whether to grant parents an “affirmative defense” to use cannabidiol oil in the treatment of their children’s severe epileptic seizures - ended nine hours later and long after most of the rest of the legislature had gone home for the evening.

After a physically and emotionally exhausting two-part hearing where parents held back tears while pleading for their children’s comfort, the committee deadlocked: 8-to-8, effectively killing the bill. Garden City Democratic Rep. John McCrostie joined seven Republican legislators in voting against Senate Bill 1146aa. Plummer Democratic Rep. Paulette Jordan was not present for the vote.

“It’s a tie,” said Committee Chair Rep. Tom Loertscher, who had voted for the bill, along with four Republicans and three Democrats. Members of the public, who had endured the marathon, sat stunned after spending a good part of their day imploring legislators to help their children.

“I’ll try to contain my emotions,” said Holli Bunderson who spoke about her son who suffered his first seizure when he was ten-months-old, and has since had a tumor and cyst removed from his brain and has been diagnosed with Autism and Limbic Rage Syndrome, triggering seizures from the deepest part of his brain throughout his 7-year-old body.

Dr. David Bettis, a pediatric neurologist who works with many of the Idaho families coping with their children’s severe epilepsy, cautioned lawmakers, “Not to throw the babies out of with the bathwater. I would urge you not to overemphasize the bathwater. Let’s keep in mind that these children deserve this kind of help. Yes, I struggle with the illegal transport of the drug as much as anyone, but that’s the part of the bathwater. We can work that out.”

Natalie Stevens said she was prepared to testify before the House committee because she was an expert.

“I’m an expert on my daughter, said the mother of 11-year-old Marley who suffers from anywhere from two to 100 seizures every day.

“You’ve heard the word ‘seizure’ over and over today,” said Stevens. “But when you hear it over and over, you forget what that entails. ‘Seizure’ means Marley can never be out of my sight; it means that she has scars from biting her tongue all the time; it means that her breathing stops, it means missing school and missing work; it means sleepless nights and agonizing days. Seizures are our prison. We’ll gladly risk this. We’re already in prison. We would rather be arrested and have an affirmative defense.”

But opponents of the bill brought out the big guns, figuratively, with Idaho police, sheriffs, prosecutors and Governor C.L. Butch Otter’s own drug czar pushing hard against SB 1146aa.

“Yes, this is heart wrenching. But I want to be clear: this is not hemp oil you can buy at the co-op. This is marijuana, a Schedule One drug and Idaho will be violating federal law if this passes,” said Elisha Figueroa, director of the Idaho Office of Drug Policy. “We have a very real criminal element in this state that is looking for a shield for their activity, and this law does just that.”

Figueroa, instead, urged the committee to support Senate Bill 1156, which have the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare administer a special program, including trials and oversight of the pharmaceutical company-manufactured Epidiolex.

The Epidiolex trial would include approximately 25 to 30 people, but at least one estimate during the March 30 State Affairs committee hearing indicated that there approximately 1,200 Idaho children who suffer from severe seizures.

ORIGINAL POST: March 30, 2015 11 a.m.

Idaho Senate Bill 1146aa
—a measure that would provide legal defense for parents of children who use a non-psychotropic form of cannabidiol oil for relief of sever seizures—ran into hard-line opposition Monday morning from Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter's point-person on drug policy.

"This is heart wrenching," Elisha Figueroa, director of the Idaho Office of Drug Policy told the Idaho House State Affairs Committee. "But I want to be clear. This is not a mere supplement. This is not the hemp oil you can buy at the co-op. This is marijuana, a Schedule One drug, and Idaho will be violating the federal law if this bill passes."

Committee Chair Rep. Tom Loertscher asked Figueroa if every other state—14 Republican-controlled legislatures have passed similar legislation thus far—is already violating federal law.

"Yes," said Figueroa plainly.

But Nampa Republican Sen. Curt McKenzie, sponsor of the bill that is also known as Alexis' Law—named for the Idaho child who suffers severe seizures profiled this past January by Boise Weekly—said, "The purpose of this bill is to provide hope to Idaho families."

"This is a type of hemp oil, with only trace amounts of THC—the substance in marijuana that can get you high," said McKenzie. "And instead of legalizing the drug, it gives parents to opportunity to defend themselves if they're charged with possession."

But Figueroa is instead pushing for a separate measure—Idaho Senate Bill 1156—that would allow the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare to administer a special program, including trials and oversight of Epidiolex.

"Senate Bill 1156 would allocate $223,000 for research costs," said Figueroa, adding that 25-33 Idaho families would be eligible for the first trial of the program. "It's fairly new, but at a December 2014 meeting of the American Epilepsy Society, some of the first trials indicated that 39 percent of patients saw some reduction of seizures. The adverse effects were mild or moderate."

But a long list of parents and caregivers are still slated to testify on behalf of of SB 1146aa, leading Loertscher to tell his committee members that they would be expected to gavel back into session Monday afternoon.

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Saturday, March 21, 2015

Revised Cannabis Oil Bill Heads to Idaho Senate

Posted By on Sat, Mar 21, 2015 at 12:32 PM

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A bill fronted by Republican Sen. Curt McKenzie, which would protect those who use medication derived from cannabis from possible prosecution, passed through the Senate State Affairs Committee March 20. The oil would be used in the treatment of some forms of severe epilepsy.

Other versions of the measure had stalled at the Idaho Statehouse, but the latest rewrite passed through the Senate State Affairs Committee on Friday by a unanimous vote. 

McKenzie's earlier bill would have loosened restrictions on the use of cannabis oil, but that was met with opposition from Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter's office. GOP Senator Chuck Winder had also proposed a measure that would require the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare to issue registration cards for users but Winder decided to pulled that bill on Friday, clearing the way for a rewritten version of McKenzie's original proposal. McKenzie's rewrite would not make the use or possession of cannabis oil legal but could protect those who use the treatment if they were to be arrested and/or prosecuted. McKenzie is the chairman of the Idaho Senate State Affairs Committee.
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Friday, March 13, 2015

Cannabis Oil Bill Passes Out of Idaho Senate Committee

Posted By on Fri, Mar 13, 2015 at 5:09 PM

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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.
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Monday, March 9, 2015

Idaho Senate Committee Holds Cannabinoid Oil Bill for Discussion

Posted By on Mon, Mar 9, 2015 at 2:59 PM

JEFFREY C. LOWE
  • Jeffrey C. Lowe

Members of the Idaho Senate State Affairs Committee on March 9 unanimously agreed to hold a bill opening the way for medical use of cannabis oil, though promised it wouldn't languish there as they mull over several amendments meant to answer concerns raised by law enforcement officials and prosecutors.

The hold comes on the heels of emotional testimony given March 4, when parents told the committee that passage of Senate Bill 1106—known as Alexis' Law, named after 10-year-old Alexis Carey who suffers from a rare seizure disorder—offered their children a last hope to control debilitating and life-threatening seizures.

“We are almost out of options,” said Boise father Ron Gambassi, testifying on March 4 about his twin daughters’ treatment plans. The girls suffer from daily seizures, some of which last as long as two hours and come day and night. The girls currently take three different types of pharmaceutical medications to control the seizures.
Boise Republican Sen. Curt McKenzie is sponsoring SB 1106, or "Alexis' Law," which would allow the use of cannabis oil to treat seizure disorders. - IDAHO LEGISLATURE
  • Idaho Legislature
  • Boise Republican Sen. Curt McKenzie is sponsoring SB 1106, or "Alexis' Law," which would allow the use of cannabis oil to treat seizure disorders.

“That’s a lot of poison,” Gambassi said.

The March 4 hearing drew a number of questions from lawmakers but no opposition to the intent of the bill. The questions centered on how police would enforce current marijuana laws, including concerns that the bill's passage would result in additional laboratory analysis on marijuana seizures and hamper the work of drug dogs, which can't distinguish between cannabis oil and marijuana.

Committee members challenged lawmakers to meet with stakeholders and draft amendments to the bill backed by the Epilepsy Foundation of Idaho that address police concerns. They did just that and returned less than a week later with a version of the bill that its sponsor, Boise Republican Sen. Curt McKenzie, called the most restrictive CBD oil bill in the nation.

McKenzie reworked the measure with input from police and the Office of Drug Policy into an amended version modeled after Georgia’s CBD oil bill, which doesn’t legalize CBD oil but provides patients and caregivers a defense in court should they face prosecution for possessing cannabis oil.

“Instead of decriminalizing or legalizing CBD, the approach that I came to was basically to provide an affirmative defense to a limited category of people,” McKenzie told the committee. 

Law enforcement and prosecutors wouldn’t have to do anything differently than they do now and the measure wouldn’t create a new bureaucracy, McKenzie added.

“The doctor would be the gatekeeper,” he said.

Under the amended measure, patients or caregivers would have a legal defense if their possession case went before a jury—but only if they carry independently lab verified, non-psychoactive cannabis oil with a THC content of less than 0.3 percent in a labeled container, and have a physician’s recommendation to treat a defined illness or disorder.

Family friend Jennifer Lewis cares for Alexis Carey (left) during Wednesday's hearing. - CARISSA WOLF
  • Carissa Wolf
  • Family friend Jennifer Lewis cares for Alexis Carey (left) during Wednesday's hearing.
Alexis Carey, whom McKenzie named the bill after, has battled Dravet Syndrome and the daily seizures that accompany the disorder since she was an infant. Alexis' mother, Clare Carey, told Boise Weekly in January that the family wants the option to try the CBD oil without facing prosecution.

The supplement has proved successful in treating seizure disorders that have resisted conventional treatments. If the bill passes, Idaho would join 12 other states that have medical CBD oil exemptions on the books. Nearly half of the states currently allow for the use of medical marijuana.

Inconsistent cannabis oil laws have prompted families to move across the country in order to treat aggressive seizure disorders that threaten their children's lives and stall their development. Lawmakers heard from parents who said that moving across state lines is not an option and that their children's health care shouldn't be determined by their zip code.

“I think that we all have the heart to get to the same place,” Assistant Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise, said of finding consensus on the measure.

Those words give Carey hope.

“All the committee members are saying, ‘We need to make this happen this session.’ That’s just so encouraging and hopefully we can address everyone’s concerns,” she said. 
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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Idaho Lawmakers Put Cannabis Oil Bill on Hold

Posted By on Wed, Mar 4, 2015 at 4:34 PM

Family friend Jennifer Lewis cares for Alexis Carey (left) during Wednesday's hearing. - CARISSA WOLF
  • Carissa Wolf
  • Family friend Jennifer Lewis cares for Alexis Carey (left) during Wednesday's hearing.
Clare Carey did on Wednesday what she said she shouldn’t have to do.

“We should be in the park," the Boise mother of two three told Boise Weekly in January. "We shouldn’t have to be dragging our sick kids to the Capitol so they can get their medicine."

Carey’s daughter, Alexis, 10, and a handful of sick children sat before Idaho lawmakers March 4 as they pondered whether the state should allow patients the right to access medical cannabis oil to treat epileptic conditions.

A "yes" vote would create an exemption for cannabis oil in state marijuana regulations and allow the children to try a medication that may control the seizures that threaten their lives. That wasn't (exactly) what they got.

The Senate State Affairs Committee unanimously sent Senate Bill 1106 to the amending order, which could keep the measure known as Alexis’ Law afloat with some caveats.

Dozens of parents filled the nearly packed Lincoln Auditorium to tell lawmakers that they don’t have much time to wait. Any seizure could be their child’s last, some told lawmakers.

“I feel like I am living on borrowed time and I don’t have time mess around [and] wait,” testified Natalie Stevens, who's 11-year-old daughter, Marley, suffers from a seizure disorder.

Rexburg Republican Sen. Brent Hill closed the nearly 2-hour-long hearing by calling for the bill—which has the backing of the Epilepsy Foundation of Idaho—to move forward with amendments addressing the concerns of law enforcement and prosecutors centered on how the state would regulate cannabidiol (CBD) oil. He challenged stakeholders to come back with an amended version of the bill, sponsored by Boise Republican Sen. Curt McKenzie, by next week.

“I don’t want to wait until next session or 10 years,” Hill said.

The Careys have waited nearly Alexis’ entire life for relief from seizures that stem from Dravet Syndrome—a life-threatening epileptic disorder that can stall development and leave children unable to walk and talk.

“I’ll never forget that moment that our eyes first met. It’s an image burned into my memory," Carey told lawmakers of her daughter’s birth. "I had no idea how much she would change my life, how much she would teach me about love, courage and a relentless determination."

Nearly three months later, Alexis suffered her first seizure.

“It’s a moment I’ll also never forget,” Carey added.

Lawmakers sat in silence as Carey played a video of her then-infant daughter in the throes of a seizure.

The video showed the first-time mom consoling her daughter, stroking her head, fighting tears and whispering, “Come on, little girl. Come on, little girl.”

Carey told legislators that Alexis’ last hope rides on their decision to allow her daughter to try CBD oil, a non-psychoactive derivative of cannabis with less than 0.3 percent THC that has shown success in controlling the seizures of children with Dravet Syndrome—but not in Idaho, where any form of cannabis is strictly illegal.

“Families I know in our small community have been able to access CBD oil for their children," Carey said. "Many children have had a positive response. Some have had reduced seizures and in some cases are seizure free. Many families have moved out of state or in some cases divided their families across the country with one parent moving with their child to access CBD oil.”

Families testified that moving was not an option for them. Mothers and fathers told lawmakers how much they love Idaho, how much they love their children and how hard they’ve worked to find a conventional pharmaceutical or medical therapy that works. Many conventional medicines they said come at a high price—one child’s medicines cost $30,000 in Medicaid dollars per year, one parent said. Toxicity, liver damage and cognitive digression are among the prices children pay for taking FDA-approved drugs that offer little or no benefits, parents told lawmakers.

Tiny wheelchairs sat parked at the auditorium’s entrance and in the room’s aisles while children’s voices occasionally hummed and babbled between testimony that alternated between parents and caregivers pleading and sometimes begging for passage of the legislation and government and law enforcement officials asking lawmakers to pause before moving forward.

Still, not a single lawmaker or opponent of the measure voiced opposition to the bill's intent. The dissent came in the form questions about how police would figure out who has legal access to cannabis, what would happen if a drug sniffing dog detected CBD oil and how to keep the oil out of the hands of people unauthorized to possess the herbal supplement.

“We believe it is the most liberal CBD bill in the country. There are no regulations, there are no safeguards…” Canyon County Prosecuting Attorney Bryan Taylor told lawmakers, echoing the sentiments of police chiefs, the Idaho Office of Drug Policy and prosecutors that represented the bulk of the dissenting testimony.

Twelve states have CBD oil exemptions on the books and 24 states currently allow for the use of medical marijuana.

Majority Leader Bart Davis challenged opponent after opponent of the bill with a variation of the same question: “How would you write the legislation?”

Taylor suggested amendments that could include stricter oversights and regulations that more narrowly define who could access CBD oil. He suggested requiring a physician’s recommendation, patient registration and product labels among the amendments.

“I think the general feeling is to try and see how we can help,” Meridian Republican Sen. Chuck Winder told Boise Weekly. But he said he shared many of the same dissenting concerns voiced by law enforcement and prosecutors that centered on how the cannabis supplement would be regulated.

“I’m hopeful that sometime in the next week or 10 days we can have a bill that has some consensus with law enforcement and the drug policy people that would provide a way to help this small group of kids that really need it,” Winder said.

It’s a move that Carey hopes can end Alexis’ wait.

“I hope they can come up with some amendments that are reasonable,” Carey said, stressing that CBD oil remains a supplement that’s no different than fish oil or melatonin. The emphasis comes in response to dissenting concerns that CBD oil isn’t FDA approved or subjected to the rigorous scientific studies required for the approval of pharmaceuticals.

“It’s a supplement. A supplement,” Carey said.

“We just want to know that if we try this, we won’t be prosecuted,” Carey said.
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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Idaho Senate Committee Introduces Bill Allowing Cannabis Oil Medication

Posted By on Wed, Feb 25, 2015 at 3:43 PM

JEFF LOWE
  • Jeff Lowe

The Idaho Senate State Affairs Committee this morning approved the introduction of a bill to relax Idaho's marijuana prohibition, allowing for the use of some cannabis oils in the treatment of illnesses like epilepsy.

Sponsored by Boise Republican Sen. Curt McKenzie, the measure would amend current Idaho statute strictly forbidding any form of marijuana to "clarify that cannabidiol oil is not under the definition of 'marijuana' for purposes of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act," according to the Senate calendar description.

Easing restrictions on cannabidiol would mean access to treatments currently illegal in Idaho but allowed in 11 other states. The Carey family, of Boise, has lobbied lawmakers to lift the ban on certain types of cannabis-based medications, which could be used to treat 9-year-old Alexis Carey, who suffers from a life-threatening epileptic disorder known as Dravet syndrome.

"It could be lifesaving," Alexis' mother, Clare Carey, told Boise Weekly  in January. "Any one of Alexis' seizures could be life-threatening. It [medication] should all be available."  

Boise State Public Radio reports that McKenzie, who is joined by Iona Republican Rep. Tom Loertscher in introducing the bill, said that while Idaho has made clear its zero-tolerance stance toward marijuana, "[T]his is a completely different kind of program." 

According to the Associated Press, the bill will likely head for a hearing, in which public testimony will be gathered.
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The Results are In: BW Poll Shows Strong Support for Marijuana Legalization in Idaho

Posted By on Wed, Feb 25, 2015 at 9:34 AM

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According to an online poll conducted Feb. 18-23 by Boise Weekly, readers of your friendly neighborhood alternative newspaper overwhelmingly say that they approve of legal weed in the Gem State.

The question was simple: "Do you support the legalization of marijuana in Idaho?" and released on boiseweekly.com and over social media outlets Twitter and Facebook. A total of 5,821 people voted, with the vast majority—87.44 percent—expressing "strong support" for the legalization of marijuana.

Of course this isn't a scientific poll. Respondents were self-selected and, while repeat votes were not allowed from the same IP address, voters could enter multiple times across different devices (if they really wanted to).

What we can glean from these results is that there is a strong contingent of people who follow BW on its homepage, Facebook and Twitter who believe that Idaho's laws criminalizing the sale and possession of marijuana are misguided to the extent that they were willing to click on a link and participate in an online poll. 
In part, we released this poll as a follow up to another poll conducted released Feb. 9 by Idaho Politics Weekly that posed a similar question to 605 Idaho residents: "Do you support or oppose the legalization of marijuana in Idaho?" The pollsters found that 53 percent of respondents "strongly oppose" legalization. Another 11 percent of respondents said they "somewhat oppose" legalization. 

IDAHO POLITICS WEEKLY
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Response to the IPW poll among BW readers was varied. Some called it a clear piece of statistical evidence indicating Idaho's position on the issue of pot legalization, while others wondered whether the poll was conducted scientifically, citing its real or perceived biases. 

This week's Boise Weekly online poll asks, "How important is it to have a community ombudsman to investigate complaints against police?" as a dovetail to this week's feature story. We hope you'll participate.
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Monday, February 9, 2015

Poll: More Than Half of Idahoans 'Strongly Oppose' Legalizing Marijuana

Posted By on Mon, Feb 9, 2015 at 10:08 AM

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Idahoans, it seems, have a strong aversion to pot.

According to a poll of 605 residents conducted by Idaho Politics Weekly, 64 percent said they oppose legalizing marijuana in the Gem State, with 53 percent of respondents saying that they "strongly oppose" legalization and another 11 percent saying they "somewhat oppose" legalization.

Seventeen percent of respondents said they "strongly support" legalization and 16 percent "somewhat support" legalization. The remaining 3 percent said they didn't know if they supported cannabis legalization.

The same survey group was also asked about racial bias in Idaho, with 32 percent of respondents saying that racial bias in the state has increased during the past 20 years, and another 43 percent saying that racial bias has remained "about the same."

Conducted between Jan. 21-Jan. 29, the Idaho Politics Weekly poll has a margin for error of +/- 3.98 percent. 

The poll results to the question, "Do you support or oppose the legalization of marijuana in Idaho?" - IDAHO POLITICS WEEKLY
  • Idaho Politics Weekly
  • The poll results to the question, "Do you support or oppose the legalization of marijuana in Idaho?"

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