Tennessee: Governor Signs CBD-Only 'Study' Bill Into Law
By Steve Elliott
Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed a very limited, CBD-only, medical marijuana "study" bill into law last Friday. Sadly, the bill may not ever result in relief for any patients at all.
Senate Bill 2531 creates a four-year study on the medicinal benefits of cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive component of marijuana, reports the Marijuana Policy Project. The bill specifies that Vanderbilt University will conduct the study, and Tennessee Tech will theoretically grow the cannabis.
As has been the case with similarly weak "CBD-only" legislation passed in other conservative states recently, the many limitations of the bill mean it won't result in relief for patients; Tennessee hasn't become a "medical marijuana state" by any stretch of the imagination.
The law foolishly depends on the cooperation of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in authorizing the cultivation of marijuana in Tennessee for the study; it's as if those who wrote the bill haven't bothered to inform themselves of the fact that the DEA has never authorized anyone except The University of Mississippi to grow cannabis for the past 50 years.
CBD-only laws leave most potential medical marijuana patients to suffer. CBD has been found effective in quelling seizures, but those treating seizure disorders with medical marijuana are only a small percentage of total patients who could benefit from cannabis.
There is also some evidence that CBD works most effectively in conjunction with THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and the other cannabinoids in the plant, known as the "entourage effect."
Programs in other states which depend upon federal cooperation have failed to help any patients. Maryland, for example, abandoned a medical marijuana program adopted in 2013, which would have required teaching hospitals to distribute cannabis to patients, after no such institutions were willing to go against federal law by participating.
Maryland wisely rejected that unworkable law in April, becoming the 21st medical marijuana state (in addition to D.C.) that allow patients actual access to cannabis without asking the feds if it's OK.
Although some activists argue that any form of medical marijuana legislation is a step forward, other advocates feel CBD-only bills merely serve as a delaying tactic by cowardly politicians who wish to appear to be "doing something" in the face of overwhelming support for medical marijuana, yet are afraid to pass an actual medical marijuana law.
The Facts About CBD
CBD is politically safe because, as a non-psychoactive component of cannabis, it doesn't get anyone high, and better yet, it helps to quell seizures of the kind often found in pediatric epilepsy. So the combination of "helping kids" and "it doesn't get you high" has proven an "in" for medical marijuana in what would otherwise have been quite forbidding places, such as the halls of power in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi -- and now Tennessee.
The disquieting fact about these no-political-risk types of laws (Alabama's passed unanimously in both chambers, amidst much self-congratulation) is that (a) they are written so narrowly as to help only a handful of children, or perhaps none at all, according to some critics; and (b) all of the dozens of cannabinoids found in marijuana work most effective in a synergistic fashion.
Physicians experienced in the field know from experience that most children with intractable epilepsy require a small amount of THC be added to the mix (often in a ratio of 10:1 CBD to THC), in order for the treatment to be effective, according to Dr. Richard Carlton, M.D.
Additional important information of which the legislators seem to be unaware is that,
as first reported on Toke Signals, it doesn't even have to be a high-CBD strain to treat pediatric seizures without getting kids high. THC which hasn’t been decarboxylated -- that is, THC acid (THCA) which hasn't been exposed to heat -- is also effective against seizures, and it isn't psychoactive, either.
That's important information for struggling parents who may not be able to afford the sky-high prices of CBD oil which are unfortunately occurring due to the media frenzy over cannabidiol; THC-rich strains of marijuana are much more affordable.