CBD-Only States on the Rise
The monumental moment of marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado was a huge step for acceptance nationwide, but under the radar there is another story silently sweeping the nation. Across the United States, state legislatures appear to be easing their restrictions on marijuana and allowing some medicinal use. In the last six months alone, states like Alabama, Utah, Florida, Wisconsin, Missouri and most recently Tennessee have adopted medical cannabis legislation that will allow patients suffering from debilitating seizures to use a special strain of marijuana called Charlotte’s Web, a strain high in CBD that contains less than 1 percent THC, to treat their illness. While many legislators are quick to call this trend a victory, some legalization proponents are crying foul over the limited scope many of these new laws have set forth.
Critics of the legislative effort, like NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano, characterize these types of bills as “largely unworkable” because of the restrictions they place on doctors and patients. Under the style of laws adopted by states like Tennessee, Utah, and Florida access to CBD-only marijuana is limited to patients participating in FDA approved clinical trials.
Since marijuana is still a Schedule I drug, regardless of how much THC it contains, all clinical trials for medical marijuana must be signed off on by a whole bevy of government agencies (like the FDA, DEA, and US National Institute of Drug Abuse just to name a few). The process to get approval for the trial alone will take years, and even then there are few people who will benefit from the actual trials.
Changing the Conversation
If you are left scratching your head as to why lawmakers would pass such an ineffective bill, don’t worry because you are not alone. Many people are asking the same questions and unfortunately few answers are coming from lawmakers. When analyzing politics, you have to watch what politicians do and not listen to what they say. Lawmakers cite compassion for the legislation, but the real reason is a bit more nefarious than that.
In recent years the evidence in favor of medical marijuana has become more and more indisputable, leaving anti-legalization legislators unable to defend their position. The nail in the coffin for the argument was Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s ground breaking report “Weed” in which he emphasized the benefits that CBD-only marijuana had on children suffering from crippling seizures. Dr. Gupta did not come out in full support of medical marijuana and instead gave a more nuanced view. This presented stubborn lawmakers with a rhetorical out to the entire marijuana debate, and thus gave birth to the wave of CBD-only bills.
By passing these narrowly defined measures and playing the part of concerned politicians who are just “thinking of the children,” law makers were able to change the focus of the debate so that their opponents either look like people against children having medicine or worse, people that just want to get high. Either way, the movement to legalize marijuana gets stalled, and opponents have more time to muster support.
It remains to be seen whether or not lawmaker’s efforts will yield any results. As of right now the public seems to overwhelmingly support full legalization as evidenced by the CNN/ORC International survey, which 55 percent of the public in favor of it. Support and interest in the legalization of marijuana is growing every day and if there is anything to gain from these half-hearted bills “legalizing” medical marijuana, it is this: legalization is inevitable. There is little that law makers can do to stem the tide of demand for marijuana in all of its forms. In the coming months and years, the savvy entrepreneurs will be the ones who work to hasten that inevitability and not the ones who try to stop it.