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Eye On Boise

House debate on CBD oil: ‘Studies sadly lacking,’ ‘Allow to have hope,’ ‘Opportunity to have relief’

From the House debate on SB 1146a, the cannabidiol bill:

House Minority Leader John Rusche, a retired pediatrician, spoke against the bill. “I’ve taken care of kids with … intractable seizure disorders, and it is a nightmare for parents and caretakers,” he said. “But I feel that … the scientific studies on use of this drug are sadly lacking. … The way to do science is not to just open it up.” He said, “I’m not sure if compassion should win out, or if science should win out. But I’ll tell you, it’s hard to put the genie back in the bottle once there is widespread use, and there’s no control of whether this medication is working or not.”

Rep. Patrick McDonald, R-Boise, said, “This is really hard for me. … There’s not one person in this body that doesn’t love children and doesn’t have a sincere desire to help them, in any way, shape or form. … I’m sure that everybody in this body has compassion for anybody that has one of these maladies.” But, he said, “I want to make sure that it doesn’t harm somebody. ... There hasn’t been a lot of research on this particular issue.”

Rep. Fred Wood, R-Burley, who also is a physician, said other drugs that are used to treat children with intractable epilepsy are far more dangerous than THC. “I don’t think that safety is an issue here,” Wood said. “What is at issue is whether we are going to allow people to actually have hope.”

Rep. Dell Raybould, R-Rexburg, told of the wrenching experience his family endured with a child who died at the age of 5, after suffering painful seizures. “That little girl died in my wife’s arms,” he told the House. “I’m going to vote for this so that those who have a chance to use this, and to try it on their children or anyone who are having those particular seizures, may have the opportunity to have relief. It would be worth it. I think we need to give it a chance.”

Rep. Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise, said, "This bill would only afford these parents a legal opportunity to talk to their doctors. ... They need the opportunity to try something for some relief."

Rep. Lynn Luker, R-Boise, said, “There are problems with this bill. …. How are these parents legally supposed to obtain this substance? A physician cannot prescribe it, it’s illegal for a physician to prescribe it. It’s illegal to transport it across state lines. It’s illegal to manufacture it in Idaho.”

Rep. Don Cheatham, R-Post Falls, said, “It’s a parental rights bill, it’s a children’s rights bill. It’s to provide relief to the children that have intractable seizures. … This bill is essential. It’s not about getting high, because you can’t get high off of cannabidiol oil. We’re not voting to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes. Sometimes we have to make difficult choices. We should stand up against the perceptions surrounding this matter. … This is to help the parents help their children, who’ve exhausted all their options.”

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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