Cannabidiol, a product of marijuana plant, getting closer to legislation


by Brooke Hasch

Posted on February 27, 2014 at 12:54 AM

Updated Thursday, Feb 27 at 4:59 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- A form of medical marijuana is one step closer to becoming legal in Kentucky.

The Senate Health and Welfare Committee approved SB124 Wednesday that would allow the use of cannabidiol, or CBD oil. It comes from the marijuana plant, but has very little of the ingredient that gets people high.

"We've seen the movement across the country, and felt like this time. Kentucky needs to stand up and speak up to help our families dealing with severe epilepsy," Deb McGrath, with the Epilepsy Foundation of Kentuckiana said.

McGrath says the use of CBD oil would greatly improve the quality of life for some 90 thousand families across the state struggling with epileptic seizures.

"The medications that are out there now are expensive. They have severe side effects as well. There's nothing different about this other than it holds a promise that other families haven't seen before. And that's what's so exciting about this," McGrath said.

Sen. Julie Denton is the sponsor of the bill.

"This isn't like legal marijuana. This is different. You can use the extract to get this oil. It does have traces of THC, but not enough to get 'high,'" Denton said.

Suzanne Degregorio is a supporter of the oil. She say her son has autism and suffers from epileptic seizures.

"Medications never quite cut it," Degregorio said.

Just this week, her son began taking CBD oil to see if he'd find the same relief others across the country have seen.

"Their seizures are reducing significantly and their development has taken off," Degregorio said, while holding the drug in her hand.. "This is called Real Scientific Hemp Oil. It's 22 percent CBD. It's totally legal because it's grown in Europe and shipped in."

It comes as a hefty price: $180 for three grams, or three doses of the treatment.

A separate bill will come to a House committee vote Thursday. HB350, known as the Cannabis Compassion Act, would legalize medical marijuana, using the whole plant, but not everyone is on board with that.

“I don't think that's going to pass this year. I think that's a big leap. I think there's a lot of questions about that," Denton said.

Questions posed by Kentucky State Police, who've already backed the use of CBD oil, but not medical marijuana.

"Never in American history have we ever asked the public to vote whether they want a drug or not," KSP Commissioner Rodney Brewer said.

Brewer believes the medical marijuana push is a front to get it for recreational use.

"What's always popular isn't right, and what's right isn't popular. So I think there needs to be some very grounded decisions made and if we ever move toward that, the medical marijuana front, I think it needs to be carefully regulated and taxed, and I certainly hope if we get to that point, and we are opposed to it, that we take a look at the mistakes made at other states across the country," Brewer said.

He says right now, enforcement in states that do allow it is lacking.

As for the CBD oil, supporters are hopeful, this is the year.

"I'm feeling good about it. But the next couple of weeks will be critical," Denton said.

Thursday, medical marijuana supporters will make their voices heard. The House Health and Welfare Committee hearing on HB350 is scheduled for noon in Room 169 of the Kentucky Capitol Annex Building. That bill is sponsored by Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, of Louisville.