Utah CBD-Only Bill Passes House of Representatives

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Photo by Randy Calderone

In a 62-11 vote, Utah’s House of Representatives passed a controversial CBD-only bill yesterday. The bill now goes on to the state senate. If the state senate passes the bill, HB105, it will land on Governor Gary Herbert’s desk and go into effect in July. Herbert is likely to sign the bill, as it has gained support of the state’s religious community, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS).

Utah is not the only state mulling legalization of the isolated cannabinoid, other states proposing similar legislation include Wisconsin, Florida, Georgia and Alabama.

The bill got its start when “Mormon Mom” Jennifer May of Hope 4 Children with Epilepsy came forward publicly saying she wanted access to cannabidiol (CBD) extracts to treat her young son’s violent epileptic seizures.

The bill, sponsored by Republican representative Gage Froerer, would create a Hemp Extracts Registry, exempting cardholders from possession laws if they are legally registered with the state to possess it.

Medications legal to possess will include high-CBD hemp oil extractions, which already ship legally to all 50 states. The only non-hemp source of CBD to qualify as a “hemp extract” under the bill’s definition is the Charlotte’s Web strain, made famous by Sanjay Gupta’s primetime special “Weed” and produced by Colorado-based Realm of Caring. Charlotte’s web has less than 0.3 percent THC.

Realm of Caring has an international waiting list for access to Charlotte’s Web, a strain with 17 percent CBD and less than 0.3 percent THC, legally qualifying it as hemp. High-CBD medicines are available in medical marijuana states, but usually include significant levels of THC as well.

The bill exempts possession but provides no legal means of distribution. In order to obtain high-CBD medications that qualify, patients will have to purchase the product out of state and illegally bring it across state lines.

“We realize the bill does not provide a way to obtain it, and that is a good thing,” says May. “But, suffice it to say that a full medical marijuana program is complex and expensive, this is Utah; complex and expensive does not garner support. Furthermore, hemp is a gray area for shipping and transport, and because the bill does not specify a strain or supplier, we can use any source we feel is appropriate.”

Hope 4 Children with Epilepsy does not support broader legislation to legalize medical marijuana in Utah.

“I was disappointed to see that HB105 wasn’t inclusive of other patients suffering,” said Christine Stenquist, Director of Drug Policy Project of Northern Utah. “We will continue to advocate for sensible cannabis policy based on research and science. I am concerned the bill doesn’t go far enough for these children these women have fought so hard for.”

Angela Bacca is a Portland, Oregon-based writer, journalist, photographer and medical cannabis patient. She has been published in a wide variety of print and digital publications including Cannabis Now Magazine, Alternet, SFCritic Music Blog, Skunk Magazine, West Coast Cannabis, Cannabis Culture Magazine, Ladybud Magazine and Opposing Views, among others. She has a Bachelor's in Journalism from San Francisco State University and a Master's in Business Administration from Mills College.