A version of this article was originally published on the Pediatric Cannabis Therapy website.
Ever since marijuana was banned by the federal government in the 1930s, proponents of prohibition have insisted that cannabis must remain illegal to protect America’s children. “Protecting the children” continues to be the calculated cornerstone of anti-marijuana propaganda, the cynical centerpiece of the war on drugs.
How ironic, then, that today thousands of families in the United States are desperately seeking cannabis remedies to protect their children from deadly diseases. The erstwhile “Assassin of Youth” has become the savior for kids with catastrophic seizure disorders and other life-threatening conditions.
Drawn by the near-miraculous healing power of oil extracted from the marijuana plant, families have been flocking to Colorado and other cannabis-friendly states, where they hope to find a remedy that helps their children, some of whom suffer a hundred seizures a day.
Parents are reporting a dramatic reduction in seizures — often 50 to 90 percent — when their children are given oral extracts rich in cannabidiol (CBD), a nonpsychoactive cannabis component; these extracts are low in THC, the compound that causes the high marijuana is famous for.
For every family that has uprooted and moved to Colorado, many more have chosen to stay home and lobby local officials in an effort to change state law so they might access an essential medicine. Their poignant pleas are having an impact. Politicians from both parties have been rushing to approve bills that would legalize marijuana for therapeutic purposes in such unlikely places as Kentucky, Georgia, Tennessee, Nebraska, South Carolina, Oklahoma, and Utah.
However, there’s a catch: The bills under consideration will only allow the use of CBD-rich oil extracts with hardly any THC. Apparently marijuana is still the evil weed to many lawmakers, but somehow certain parts of the plant are good — and now they’re claiming the good parts aren’t actually marijuana!
According to this political pretzel logic, marijuana gets you high, but CBD-rich marijuana doesn’t get you high; therefore, CBD-rich marijuana is not marijuana.
“This is not medical marijuana. It’s just an oil derived from that plant,” according to Wisconsin GOP state representative John Spiros, a former police officer who voted to approve CBD-only legislation. Gage Froerer, a Utah state legislator, weighed in with similar rhetorical gimmickry about CBD: “It’s not a drug. It’s not medical marijuana.”
Last week, Alabama became the first state to approve a CBD-only legislation.
During the notorious vote that outlawed cannabis in America in 1937, a befuddled U.S. Congressman asked House Majority Leader Sam Rayburn from Texas, “What is this bill about?” Rayburn replied, “It has something to do with a thing called marijuana. I think it is a narcotic of some kind.” Still clueless more than seven decades later, influential state lawmakers are claiming that the CBD-only legislation they favor has something to do with a thing called “not marijuana.”
Promoted by impassioned parents, do-gooders, and entrepreneurs with a financial interest in seeing such laws pass, CBD-only legislation has triggered a serious controversy within the medical marijuana community. Some see it as a key first step, a viable tactic for cracking open the prohibitionist door in states governed by retro pols and religious zealots.
Others are less sanguine about the prospect of CBD-only laws. “CBD-only legalization is like being half pregnant. It doesn’t make sense,” says Garyn Angel, founder of Magical Butter, a homemaker’s device for extracting cannabis oil. Angel, who is not enamored of efforts to legalize only low THC concentrates, has provided financial assistance to poor families so they could join the CBD children’s crusade to Colorado.