Idaho Lawmakers Will Introduce Bill To Legalize Marijuana Extract For Epilepsy

Feb 24, 2015

Alexis Carey (seen here with parents Clare and Micheal Carey) is now 10 -years-old. She suffers from life threatening seizures that took her ability to walk and speak at a very young age.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho lawmakers will introduce a bill Wednesday that will allow people to use some oils extracted from cannabis plants. Idaho currently does not allow any form of medical marijuana.  But other states without medical pot have passed exemptions similar to this new bill.

Its aim is to allow people with epilepsy to use the extract. Certain strains of cannabis have shown great promise in reducing seizures in children with severe epilepsy.

Sen. Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa, is introducing the bill along with Rep. Thomas Loertscher, R-Iona. McKenzie says they also have backing from more of their fellow Republicans.

“We’ve taken a strong position against legalization of marijuana in the state. But this is a completely different kind of program,” McKenzie says. “And I’ve been encouraged by the legislators who have worked on this with me. I think we have pretty broad support.”

The bill would only allow extracts with very low THC, the chemical that causes marijuana users to get high. It would not limit who can access the oil, but getting it still would not be easy. Federal marijuana laws will probably mean people who want to use it would have to travel to states where it is available and bring it back.

Boise’s Clare Carey says she’ll do just that as soon as she can. Carey’s daughter has a rare and intractable form of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome. Carey has been lobbying Idaho lawmakers for more than a year to allow her family to try this treatment.

“I know a couple of parents that have moved out of state, and so this may give them the option to come back,” Carey says. “And any family that may have been considering moving can stay here.  I feel very excited and happy with the work the legislators have done. They really did put these families first.”  

Find Adam Cotterell on Twitter @cotterelladam

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