With the passage of the federal spending bill on Saturday, Congress made a historic decision which contains protections for medical marijuana and industrial hemp operations. The immediate and symbolic message of this decision related to the war on drugs is far reaching and is a huge step forward for advocates of this industry.
The spending bill includes an amendment that will prohibit the Department of Justice from using funds to go after state-legal medical cannabis programs. It will also move the country one step closer to ending raids on medical marijuana dispensaries.
“When the House first passed this measure back in May, we made headlines; today we made history,” Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.), who in May introduced the medical marijuana protections amendment with co-sponsor Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), told The Huffington Post regarding the bill’s passage.
“The federal government will finally respect the decisions made by the majority of states that passed medical marijuana laws,” Farr added. “This is great day for common sense because now our federal dollars will be spent more wisely on prosecuting criminals and not sick patients.”
“Congress has finally initiated a drawdown in the federal government’s war on medical marijuana,” said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, in a statement. “This legislation makes it clear that the DEA has no business interfering in states’ medical marijuana laws. Taxpayer money should not be used to punish seriously ill people who use medical marijuana and the caregivers who provide it to them.”
As Congress moves toward enacting historic policies on a national level, acceptance and implementation of CBD by The Food and Drug Administration has been successfully moving through the state level. The FDA has given the University of Alabama at Birmingham approval to study the use of CBD to treat seizures.
UAB spokesman Bob Shepard said the university received FDA letters on Wednesday authorizing the two studies, one for children and one for adults.Shepard said the FDA requested some changes. Those will go before a university review board next month, he said.
The federal approval was welcome news to families who had pushed to make the oil legally available in Alabama.
“It’s hard to put in words the feelings you have as a Dad with a daughter that could benefit from this,” said Dustin Chandler.
“I’m relieved that we got over this big hurdle and excited that the study is finally going to proceed,” Chandler said.
Alabama lawmakers approved the study after a decriminalization bill, which would have shielded parents and patients from prosecution if they bought the oil on their own, stalled under concerns about patient safety and opposition to any form of medicinal marijuana.
The approved legislation gives $1 million to the university to fund the five-year study and determine its effectiveness as a treatment. Participants in the study who are prescribed the marijuana oil will have legal protection from state criminal charges.
Unlike studies in which some patients are given placebos, the UAB study will provide the oil to all participants. Chandler said he hopes families can get the oil beginning in early 2015. The importance of this expedited process can not be understated as pleas from around the country continue.
Tragically, children dying while waiting for much-needed CBD has become a somewhat regular occurrence, or at least one that’s now being publicized.
The latest sad news comes from Tennessee as 3-year-old Chloe Grauer has passed away. The epileptic child suffered a “critical seizure” last Friday and then “went into a coma and lost brain function.”
Chloe, whose family appealed and pleaded for Tennessee’s CBD-bill, never got to try the one substance that could have saved her life and has proved to save the lives of many epileptic children all over the world.
And as noted above, Chloe is not alone. Earlier this year, 7-year-old Lydia Schaeffer passed away while waiting for CBD in Wisconsin. Moreover, in July, three New York children waiting for CBD died in the span of one week.
It is clear that the need is still great and not enough children can access CBD despite great efforts on local,state, and national levels. These unfortunate stories are made even more tragic by the fact that it’s a problem of access to CBD; a problem that will hopefully be remedied soon.