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Idaho's Vote About CBD Legality – The Drama Continues

Idaho's Vote About CBD Legality – The Drama Continues - SOL✿CBD

A note from the publisher: Since the publication of this article, the FDA has approved a CBD-based prescription drug for two special types of epilepsy.

On Friday, February 23rd,  the Idaho House Health and Welfare Committee, after much debate, allowed for the introduction of HB 577, sponsored by Rep. Dorothy Moon (R-Stanley). The bill, if passed through all levels of state government, would give Idahodians themselves, or their children, legal access to cannabidiol (CBD) oil. From Rep. Dorothy Moon’s point of view, “There’s a lot of medicinal qualities to CBD oil … From epileptic seizures to fibromyalgia to chemotherapy, you know, nausea and pain from other issues. It is amazing.” [1]

The bill, if passed through, would give Idaho legal access to cannabidiol (CBD) oil.

RELATED: Natural Alternatives Improve Health Without the Terrible Side Effects

The introduction of the bill was exciting for state CBD advocates, but less than two weeks later, on Monday, March 5th, the bill was shut down by Chairman of the board, Lee Heider. In his own words, “If anyone on this committee wants to talk about this, they can do so in my office.” The bill seemed dead before it was even truly open for debate. Was the Idaho CBD vote dead before it even arrived on the floor for public and open debate? [2]

However, the state of CBD oil in Idaho wasn't quite finished. The next day, Chairman Lee Heider admitted to violating a known Senate Rule, number 20. On Tuesday, March 6th, the previous day’s vote was vacated, and HB 577 was back on the table.

What Is Going on With the Idaho CBD Vote?

The story of CBD oil in Idaho began almost three years ago.  Idaho lawmakers passed a similar bill on CBD oil in 2015. Its newfound legal status didn’t last long, however, as Republican Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, quickly vetoed the legislation. For the time being, the Governor had put CBD oil legal status on hold.

It's been three years since the veto, but the opinion on non-psychoactive cannabinoids like CBD is shifting across the country. Perhaps because there is an increased call to legalize CBD oil across America, with 18 other states already on board, some Idahodian lawmakers decided to listen to the growing voice of their constituents.

Republican Sen. Tony Potts has voiced the concerns of his constituents and despite the turmoil in the Senate, is pushing for an official hearing on HB 577, “I think we have to remember that we represent people, people who vote for us, people who are our friends. If your constituents are anything like mine, there is a large number of individuals who desire the health benefits of this oil.” [2]

What is Going On With the Idaho CBD Vote?

The bill’s original advocate, Rep. Moon, had 40 sponsors for the bill after only two days of meetings. She stated to reporters that she expected to see that number grow, considering how many had already signed on out of the 105 total legislatures in the state.

Even Chairman Heider admits it is a hot-button issue, on March 7th, he admitted to the local KTVB news station, "I get phone calls every day. I get emails by the hundreds. I'm not being facetious. When I came in this morning I had 285 emails relative to this issue. So, I know it's out there.” [3]

Part of the reason why Heider may have kiboshed the hearing on March 5th was due to Sen. Potts unceremoniously demanding the bill be heard by the Senate House Health and Welfare Committee. According to supporters, the leaders of the House Assembly were simply going to sweep this bill under the rug, without giving it any hearing at all. Therefore, Potts stepped up to push the HB 577 motion forward.

Pott’s has a personal interest in seeing CBD oil legal in Idaho. His family has personally been struggling with his son’s recent and undiagnosed seizures. In previous meetings on the subject, he acknowledged that his family would be interested in exploring the possible anti-seizure properties of CBD oil.

RELATED: The Ways CBD Oil Benefits Childhood Epilepsy

The Senate Broke Longstanding State Rules to Stop Hearings on CBD Oil

After Pott announced his desire to debate HB 577 on March 5th, all hell broke loose.

Chairman Heider corralled all members into his office for a closed-door meeting. Reporters were denied entry but heard yelling from within the room. According to reports from the Associated Press, Chairman Heider was heard yelling, “The governor’s office doesn’t want this bill, the prosecutors don’t want this bill, the office on drug policy doesn’t want this bill.”

But what Chairman Heider didn’t know at the time was he was violating Senate rules which clearly state that “all meetings of any standing, select, or special committee shall be open to the public at all times.” This is why, only one day later, his decision on the bill was rescinded and the bill, at least in theory, is back up for debate.

There are still no reports coming out of the Senate House Health & Welfare Committee on when if ever, the bill will be released. Chairman Heider refuses to comment on it; he may continue to hold it in the committee indefinitely. [3]

Why the Push for an Idaho CBD Vote Now?

During the original discussions in February, when the bill put forward by Rep. Moon, there were over two hours of testimony from either side, discussing the pros and cons to changing CBD oil’s legal status in the state.

Why the Push for an Idaho CBD Vote Now?

A large part of the drive to legalize cannabis-derived CBD oil in Idaho is from parents of children with difficult to treat epilepsy. There are approximately 36 children with intractable epilepsy in the state with approval to use Epidiolex (a CBD-based pharmaceutical grade drug) through its trial. However, as lawmakers heard during the hearing, the yearly cost of the drug, if and when approved, would likely be between $30,000 to $60,000 a year. Its costs would make it prohibitive for many families in the state, where the median income sits around $49,174. according to statistics from 2016. [4][5]

The need to push forward legislation to allow legal access to an all-natural compound is urgent. While those who can afford it may choose to go with the $60,000 a year prescription, there are likely many patients in the state who would prefer the cheaper and whole-plant alternative.

RELATED: The FDA May Approve CBD-Based Epilepsy Drug







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