[JURIST] Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe [official website] on Thursday signed a legislative measure [HB 1445] aimed at permitting use of medical marijuana oils for individuals suffering from severe forms of epilepsy. The bill permits the use of cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol acid (THC-A) oils by providing an affirmative defense to charges of possession for those suffering from intractable epilepsy, as long as they have first obtained written permission from a doctor to use the oils. The bill does not permit the cultivation of marijuana plants nor the establishment of dispensaries, leaving questions as to how patients may come into possession of the marijuana derivatives. CBD has been found to be effective at fighting symptoms of epilepsy, as well as preventing metastasis of and even killing some cancer cells [science journal reports]. THC-A has been linked to benefits such as effective reduction of inflammation, preventing nausea and neuroprotection [science journal reports].
While marijuana is still federally classified as Schedule I [DEA scheduling], meaning it has high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use, 23 states and the District of Columbia [JURIST report] permit some degree of medical use. The legal use and sale of marijuana [JURIST backgrounder] for both medical and recreational purposes has become a major political issue in the US with a number of states contemplating various legalization initiatives. In December Oklahoma and Nebraska filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] against neighboring Colorado over the new marijuana market. In November voters in Alaska, Oregon and Washington, DC, voted [JURIST report] to legalize recreational marijuana. In September the Pennsylvania State Senate approved [JURIST Report] legislation that would legalize several forms of medical marijuana. In July Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed [JURIST report] legislation that will allow adults and children suffering from seizures access to medical marijuana. In April the Maryland House of Representatives passed a bill [JURIST report] that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.