When he was 10 years old, doctors diagnosed Josh Phillips with a kind of epilepsy that causes severe seizures. Now 19, and living with his parents in Salmon, Josh’s health future depends a great deal on how the state government chooses to treat him. Were he to live in any state contiguous to Idaho, Josh could get the CBD oil treatment he and his family believe would best relieve his suffering. But, because he lives in The Gem State, such treatment is considered a crime.
Josh is the hero in Idaho Freedom Foundation’s new short film, “Hope Vetoed.” The film shines light on CBD oil, which is made from cannabis, a possible treatment for Josh’s seizures. Josh’s story is one reason why I’m passionate about Idaho revising its laws that govern cannabis. Over the last several months, in regard to CBD oil sought as medicine, the Idaho Freedom Foundation has heard from many people — people you’d recognize and probably know as friends, family and neighbors.
In cannabis, a.k.a. marijuana, two significant ingredients are most commonly discussed: the psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and the non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD). What Josh, his family and countless others have been asking the state of Idaho to do is legalize the latter, non-psychoactive ingredient. CBD is legally sold in every state that surrounds Idaho, including Wyoming and Utah, states not known as meccas for potheads. If Josh or his parents crossed the border, bought CBD and returned with it to Idaho, they’d be in violation of Idaho law, charged with marijuana possession, fined and possibly jailed. CBD oil is considered by our state government to be a “crime against society.”
This is one of the problems of Idaho’s counterproductive and heartless marijuana statutes, which say every single part of the cannabis plant, from stem to stern, so to speak, is illegal. Even a CBD oil extract, like the one medicinally benefiting individuals in other states, is not exempt, no matter how safe or effective it may be.
This rigid, inhospitable legal status is perpetuated by Gov. Butch Otter, who last year vetoed legislation that would have allowed Josh and other potential CBD oil users the chance they asked for. Instead, Otter sided with special interests, who are getting taxpayers, including the Phillips family, to fund their investigational study of a cannabidiol-based pharmaceutical.
Some critics have said, before Idahoans like Josh should be allowed to use CBD oil, it must pass muster with federal regulators, the official and final arbiters of what constitutes good medicine, especially as potential treatment for children. For those who think this should be the only approval path taken, please research the controversial drug Ritalin, which has negative side effects -- but it enjoys the federal government’s seal of approval. Consider opioids, available legally, prescribed by doctors, and now the source of a national addiction problem. According to a new study, the number of opioid deaths per day: 78. Number of deaths ever from CBD products. Zero.
The question before us: Does the state of Idaho wish for Josh and his parents to be considered criminals, or do we wish to give them the opportunity, in Idaho, to select and take the medicine that would best serve Josh? While contemplating the question, consider whether Josh and his family are the villains here. Is CBD oil possession and consumption a “crime against society”? Or, is the real crime being committed by politicians who so fear personal responsibility that they’re willing to allow this injustice to continue?