Two of the leading Republican gubernatorial candidates say they’re willing to allow the legal possession of CBD oil, a marijuana extract. A third candidate says he’ll only support a government-sanctioned pharmaceutical version. None of the candidates say they support legalization of marijuana, although one candidate expresses an interest in drug-related sentencing reform.
Seventeen states allow for the possession and use of CBD oil, which has been shown to have medicinal benefits for some patients. However, Idaho has had the most disappointing history when it comes to CBD oil. Gov. Butch Otter vetoed a CBD oil bill in 2015, and this year a House-passed bill died in a Senate committee without a vote because of pressure from the governor’s office. Although some CBD oil is sold in Idaho health food stores, state officials dispute its legality. The only state-sanctioned CBD oil in use in Idaho is via a small clinical trial that state taxpayers are funding for GW Pharma’s drug called Epidiolex.
The question that the Idaho Freedom Foundation posed to the candidates for governor was: “From decriminalization and legalization to keeping our current policies in place or making them tougher, what is your position on marijuana in Idaho? Do you support our existing statutes, want them toughened, loosened, allow for the sale, possession or use of certain marijuana derivatives? Additionally, do you support the state-funded CBD pharma study and/or the CBD legislation that passed the Idaho House?”
Lt. Gov. Brad Little answered, "I support existing Idaho law and oppose the legalization of marijuana.” A similar answer came from Tommy Ahlquist, who said, “As an ER doctor, I do not support the legalization, the manufacturing, sale or use of medicinal and/or recreational marijuana. I have seen the negative impacts this drug has on individuals and our communities.”
U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador said Idaho should change its sentencing laws: “Idaho should take steps to eliminate mandatory minimum sentencing for low level drug offenders to give judges more discretion to determine an appropriate sentence instead of sending first time offenders to prison.”
Labrador said he’s favorable to CBD oil legalization: “There's no reason in the world Idaho should continue to outlaw CBD oil. CBD comes from a cannabis plant, but it doesn't impair a person's thinking or have the other psychoactive side effects associated with marijuana.”
Labrador also condemns Idaho’s underwriting of GW Pharma’s study. “It's wrong that Idaho is paying for a big drug company's medical research so that it can reformulate CBD oil into a pharmaceutical that will cost each patient thousands of dollars a year. As governor, I will stop this type of cronyism from continuing,” Labrador said.
Little, however, is bullish on the GW Pharma study while opposing the CBD legislation that stalled this year in the Legislature.
“We are expanding the current quality controlled CBD oil treatment study taking place where CBD oil is being administered to children with epilepsy or seizure disorders, and the results seem to be proving very successful. I support this pilot, and I want to ensure that we get all the data and know that this treatment works,” said Little. “There is also optimism regarding the FDA’s approval of Epidiolex, a CBD-based epilepsy treatment drug. As for this session’s CBD legislation, I think it was far too broad and had too many unintended consequences."
Ahlquist said his medical training tells him that CBD oil is treatment worthy of consideration. “As a doctor, I support the legalization of CBD oil as a medical treatment that helps sick people as long as the hallucinogenic effects are removed and is prescribed by a doctor like any other drug.”
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