[JURIST] US Representative Scott Perry (R-PA) [official website] on Monday introduced a bill [press release] to nationally legalize cannabidiol (CBD) oil, or marijuana extract, which has been shown to treat seizures in children suffering from epilepsy. Although the bill, called the “Charlotte’s Web Medical Hemp Act of 2014,” does not legalize all forms of marijuana [Penn Live report] for medical use, it does remove CBD oil and therapeutic hemp from the federal definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. “Therapeutic hemp” is that which contains no more than .3% THC and thus produces no “high.” The introduction of the legislation coincides with a promise [MSNBC report] by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett [official website] to create a state level pilot program for families whose children require access to medical marijuana. Marijuana and its extracts are currently banned for both medical and recreational purposes at the federal level and in a majority of states, including Pennsylvania. Charlotte Figi, a young girl in Colorado whose story sparked a national movement, went from having 300 grand mal seizures a week to having only two or three as a result of treatment with CBD oil. Though the legislation does not mark a change in Perry’s stance on the legalization of recreational marijuana, the Congressman stated that children suffering from seizures deserved a chance to lead a healthy and productive life, and that the government should not stand in the way.
The use of marijuana for medical [JURIST backgrounder] purposes has garnered more legal support [Marijuana Policy Project website] in the US in recent months. Last week Illinois Governor Pat Quinn [official website] signed legislation [JURIST report] that will allow adults and children suffering from seizures access to medical marijuana, amending the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act to allow children with parental consent to access medical marijuana. Quinn signed medical marijuana legislation [JURIST report] last year. The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act is one of the country’s strictest medical marijuana laws, requiring users of the drug to carry an identification card, enroll in a confidential multi-agency verification system run by the Department of Health, and obtain a written certification from a physician regarding the specific needs for marijuana and the expected outcomes. Earlier this month New York Governor Andrew Cuomo [official website] signed [JURIST report] the Compassionate Care Act [text] into law, making New York the twenty-third state to legalize medical marijuana. Last month Florida Governor Rick Scott [official website] signed [JURIST report] a bill allowing a non-euphoric strain of marijuana to be used for the treatment of epilepsy, cancer and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Minnesota lawmakers in May approved a bill [JURIST report] legalizing medical marijuana in pill or liquid form for a limited number of patients who suffer from severe or fatal illnesses.