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Eye On Boise

House opens debate on allowing parents of sick kids to treat them with cannabis extract

The House has suspended its rules and taken up SB 1146a, the cannabidiol bill, to allow Idaho parents of children with intractable epilepsy to use a non-psychotropic extract of cannabis that’s shown promise in treating the youngsters’ life-threatening seizures, with a doctor's recommendation. “The State Affairs Committee this year has brought a lot of very difficult issues to us that are hard votes for us here,” State Affairs Chairman Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, told the House. “This bill is no exception. This is a hard vote.”

The bill has been opposed by Gov. Butch Otter’s Office on Drug Policy, law enforcement and prosecutors, but supported by families whose children suffer from the malady; doctors have testified on both sides of the bill. ODP Director Elisha Figueroa told lawmakers at earlier hearings that the bill would open the door to legalizing medical marijuana.

The bill earlier passed the Senate on a 22-12 vote. It died on a tied vote in the House State Affairs Committee last Monday, but was reconsidered later in the week, and passed, 12-4. “You’re going to hear a lot about how the sky is falling if we do this, that we’re opening the door for something very bad,” Loertscher said. “I want to remind you that this particular oil is very low in THC, which is the ingredient that causes the problem when it comes to the cannabis plant. … There’s only trace amounts of THC in this.”

“This is not one of those instances where we should be concerned about a slippery slope,” Loertscher said. “This in fact is an opportunity for these parents and these children, who are suffering, languishing even, with these horrible seizures, an opportunity for them to seek out something that might work for them.”

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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