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Otter suggested that he would veto the bill, just like he did three years ago, but Moon thought the support in the Legislature would make it veto-proof. When a lawmaker tried to discuss it, Sen. Heider pulled the committee into an office and closed the door.
There, according to audio recorded by the Associated Press , Heider shouted, "The governor's office doesn't want this bill, the prosecutors don't want this bill, the office on drug policy doesn't want this bill. Otter, however, won't be in office next year, and those vying to replace him seem at least slightly more open to the idea of CBDs. The original print version of this article was headlined "Veto Power".
Green Zone , marijuana , green zone. All of today's events Staff Picks. Switch to the mobile version of this page. Speaking of Marijuana, CBDs may help speed wound healing, but issues with standards and labeling continue Feb 6, In case you need a little help this Sunday Jan 31, Gonzaga University Hemmingson Center Mon.
Select a movie Oscar Nominated Shorts: Animation Oscar Nominated Shorts: State modifies lawsuit settlement to improve foster care system by Wilson Criscione Feb 7, Spokane Public Schools comes under fire for hiring a school resource officer who's repeatedly been accused of using excessive force by Wilson Criscione Feb 7, In fact, Otter is the only governor to veto a CBD oil bill, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures , which tracks legislation proposed and passed in states.
In his veto message, Otter explained his decision by warning of "the potential for misuse and abuse with criminal intent. Rice, the Republican legislator who sponsored the CBD legislation, sees things differently.
He says the state legislature worked with law enforcement to rewrite parts of the bill in an attempt to address those concerns. The final version of the bill would have required written permission from a doctor before a patient could obtain CBD oil and allowed doctors to prescribe CBD oil only for the treatment of intractable seizures after other medical options had been tried.
There was nothing in the CBD bill that would have prevented police from arresting anyone for illegally obtaining or using marijuana or marijuana-derived products. Instead, it provided what is known as an "affirmative defense" against prosecution for possessing an otherwise illegal substance.
That means police officers, and drug dogs, would still be able to bust marijuana users. Anyone who had obtained the CBD oil with the permission of his or her doctor, however, would be protected against prosecution. While the legislature worked to address some of the law enforcement lobbyists' concerns, representatives from the Idaho Prosecuting Attorneys Association, the Idaho Chiefs of Police Association, the Fraternal Order of Police, and other "law enforcement folks" were meeting with Elisha Figueroa, director of the Idaho Office of Drug Policy.
Figueroa served as a conduit for law enforcement efforts to torpedo the CBD bill. In one email to Otter's chief of staff, she notes that she'd been "working tirelessly all session to oppose" the bill.
Officially, the Office of Drug Policy is tasked with "providing policy, education, prevention and treatment resources" and works toward "an Idaho free from the devastating social, health and economic consequences of substance abuse" by funding anti-drug initiatives and overseeing substance abuse programs.
Politically, the office serves as a nexus for the various special interests that favor the status quo of drug prohibition in Idaho, giving them a special place within the apparatus of state government.
During the CBD oil debate in , Figueroa, who was appointed by Otter to run the office in , served as a conduit for the law enforcement groups' efforts to torpedo the bill.
In one April email to David Hensley, Otter's chief of staff, obtained by Reason , Figueroa details how she had been "working tirelessly all session to oppose" the CBD bill. In that email, written four days after the bill reached Otter's desk, Figueroa's became even more adamant about derailing the legislation.
In the same message, she tellingly asked for the opportunity to let lobbyists write a better version of the legislation. Her work appears to have paid off. Six days after her plea, Otter vetoed the bill.
In his five-paragraph statement about the veto , he twice pointed to opposition from the Office of Drug Policy as reasons why he would not sign it. Figueroa says members of law enforcement and their lobbyists were concerned about the CBD oil bill. Since part of her job is "to determine how the health and safety of Idahoans may be affected by legislation," Figueroa wrote in a November email to Reason , "it's not unusual for me to discuss pieces of legislation or legislative ideas with those community stakeholders who would be affected by such.
The effort to "bring stakeholders together," she says, was a reference to "agencies that would be affected by the bill or would be responsible for implementing new programs or procedures as a result of a new law.
Whether under the influence of lobbyists or not, Figueroa undoubtedly held considerable sway within the Otter administration regarding the CBD legislation. As we will see, that influence not only helped give voice to law enforcement concerns about the bill, but also guided Otter's decision to implement a clinical trial of a new pharmaceutical drug instead of legalizing CBD.
If we take Otter at his word—and the word of his spokesman—then it was law enforcement's opposition to the CBD oil bill that convinced the governor to veto it, and general concern about the public safety consequences of legalizing marijuana that convinced him to change his long-held views on the topic. There may have also been a second factor pushing Otter's administration to oppose the bill and favor a clinical trial of a particular drug instead.
But Big Pharma is active in the states too, and drug companies have been particularly keen on fighting efforts to legalize medical marijuana in all its various forms, including CBD oil. That's because states with legal medical marijuana have lower rates of drug prescriptions.
In a study published earlier this year , Ashley and W. David Bradford, a daughter-father pair of researchers at the University of Georgia, analyzed state-level prescription drug databases from through and found that doctors prescribed significantly fewer pharmaceutical drugs in states with legal medical weed.
The largest drop-off was for prescription painkillers, with 1, fewer doses prescribed annually in states with medical marijuana laws. They found a significant decline— fewer doses annually—in prescriptions for anti-seizure drugs as well. It also spends lots of money helping to elect state lawmakers from both sides of the aisle—including Otter. Otter got two maximum contributions from PhARMA in —one during the primary campaign cycle and another during the general election campaign cycle—as he was running for a third term.
So pharmaceutical companies had a motive fewer prescriptions issued in states with medical pot and means campaign contributions and lobbyists to influence the Otter administration's decision on SB Did they have the opportunity? Hanian, Otter's spokesman, says they played no part in the decision-making process. There was no written response from Pisca—at least not one copied to Tammy Perkins. Figueroa, in an email to Reason , admitted to contacting Pisca but said he did not respond to that request.
A records request for Figueroa's emails has not been returned and Pisca did not respond to requests for comment. Excerpted from primer sent to Gov. Otter by Elisha Figueroa in email dated Feb. The "preferred option," she wrote, was to "try to kill" the CBD bill "and promote the [Food and Drug Administration] trial as an alternative.
The timeline suggests that the Office of Drug Policy was never really working with the legislature to pass a mutually agreeable version of the bill, but was moving on a parallel track from the start. The committee rejected that idea, but Figueroa and others in the Otter administration worked throughout March to achieve the Office of Drug Policy's first-choice outcome of replacing the bill with a clinical trial of the drug Epidiolex, which is derived from CBD oil and manufactured by GW Pharmaceuticals, a British company.
Emails reveal that Figueroa was laying the groundwork for just such a clinical trial by March 8, when she received a "preliminary cost analysis" from Robert Wechsler, a Boise-based physician who specializes in treating epilepsy and also serves as president of the Epilepsy Foundation of Idaho.
Wechsler served as a de facto consultant to the Otter administration during the CBD oil debates, and in emails obtained by Reason through an open records request, Wechsler consistently expressed skepticism about CBD's effectiveness and warned against legalization.
In one message to several of Otter's top advisers, he argued that parents' perception of CBD oil was clouded by the "emotional nature" of the issue. At the same time that Wechsler was offering candid advice to the administration and angling for a state contract, he was also maintaining a professional relationship with Hunter Land, a medical science liaison for GW Pharmaceuticals. Two weeks after Otter's veto , Wechsler forwarded an email from Land to Figueroa, which Figueroa forwarded along to Perkins and other top Otter staffers with the comment that the information from GW Pharmaceuticals "will be important when discussing any future legislation regarding CBD oil.
In that same email chain, Wechsler offered " cudos [sic] to the governor for not letting [the CBD oil bill] squeak by. Wechsler did not respond to multiple requests for comment. A spokesman for GW Pharmaceuticals told Reason the company did not attempt to influence the decision-making process in Otter's administration. Substituting the CBD oil bill with the limited clinical trial of Epidiolex was an ineffective way to alleviate the suffering of people like Josh Phillips.
In internal documents and statements to the media , the Otter administration stressed that a clinical study was better for children in Idaho suffering from epileptic seizures. Administering a drug like Epidiolex instead of letting families seek out CBD oil from marijuana growers in other states would ensure that patients were getting consistent, purified products and were being treated under the oversight of a neurologist, Figueroa wrote to lawmakers while the bill was still advancing through the legislature.
The reality of the study, however, was much more limited. Only 25 children were allowed to enter the state's clinical trial. Anyone who didn't qualify or wasn't selected was left with nothing. That includes Josh, who turned 18 two months before the cut-off date for the trial, which was only open to minors. Marijuana Policy Project annual report.
In other cases, the limits of the clinical trial forced some parents to make heart-wrenching decisions. Sara and Ron Gambassi have twin year-old girls, Clare and Julia, who suffer from epileptic seizures brought on by CFC, a rare physical and cognitive developmental disorder. With a limited number of slots in the trial, Sara and Ron made the difficult decision to only put one of their kids, Clare, into the program.
We see her every day having seizures. We see her having seizures and hitting her head, and because she's non-verbal she can't even tell us how it feels. The trials of Epidiolex might eventually produce a drug that successfully treats seizures, and that drug might eventually find favor with the Food and Drug Administration FDA , allowing it to be prescribed by doctors across the country.
According to the company's year-end report for , GW Pharmaceuticals is treating approximately children with the new medication at 32 clinical sites in the United States Schultz, GW's spokesman, says more than 1, people have recieved Epidiolex, including those in FDA clinical trials and those in state-level programs , and GW hopes to use the results of those trials to obtain federal approval, which it needs to begin marketing Epidiolex in the United States.
The company plans to file for FDA approval in So far, the company is reporting " promising signals of efficacy ," with a median reduction in total seizures of 45 percent across all patients who have been receiving the drug for at least 12 weeks.
About half the patients in the clinical trials have seen a better than 50 percent reduction in seizures, GW reported at the end of But even if the drug does win approval from the FDA at some later date in one email, Figueroa says approval could come in , does it make sense to prevent children suffering intractable seizures from getting CBD oil in the meantime and as an alternative? Now 7, Scout has had four brain surgeries and has been given a wide variety of anti-seizure drugs, without success.
Bunderson would prefer to give her son CBD oil rather than a cannabis-derived drug like Epidiolex. In October , Kelly Osbourne, a year-old mother, was arrested and charged with child endangerment for giving her daughter, who suffers from seizures, marijuana-infused butter. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare took Osbourne's two children away from her, according to local media reports. The Otter administration says cannabis-derived drugs like Epidiolex are preferable to CBD oil because the drug is extracted using medical equipment and is rigorously tested to ensure that it's consistent and free from contaminants.
They contrast that with "artisanal CBD oil" that has not been approved by the FDA and could come in a wide range of potencies, depending on who is making and selling it.
But the agency has not yet approved Epidiolex or any other CBD oil derivative, and there's no timetable for when it might do so. And Butch Otter, the man who once fought the EPA over his backyard pond and challenged the federal government's decision to link highway funds to the legal drinking age, is now saying the FDA should be the sole arbiter of what medical treatments Idahoans can access.
I don't blame him, but I do disagree with him. The state legislature could give Otter the chance to fix that mistake when it convenes for a new session on January 9. The Idaho Freedom Foundation, a free market think tank in Boise, is making the CBD oil and, more broadly, the issue of marijuana reform a centerpiece of its efforts for the new session. The organization has produced a documentary about Josh Phillips and his battle with the state government.
It is currently playing in theaters around the state and available on the organization's website. Rice says he would still support a CBD oil bill, but sees other things as being higher priorities at the moment. Working on a bill that the governor would probably just reject again is not worth it. The threat of another veto hangs over any discussion of the topic in Boise and makes it less likely that lawmakers will spend their limited time in session Idaho's legislature meets for less than three months each year, from early January to late March on CBD.
As is his custom, he does not discuss legislation expected to come up during the upcoming session, until and unless it reaches his desk. There are some exceptions to that rule, but this is not one of them. Meanwhile, the Phillips family feels betrayed by their governor. Josh is our son. He's not the state's. He's not Butch Otter's. Otter's veto grew out of a system controlled by powerful interests who benefit from the maintenance of the status quo.
Law enforcement wants to keep fighting the war on drugs—even when that means fighting kids with seizures—because it provides an endless stream of reasons for police departments to be given more money and the latest tech, with few questions asked. And pharmaceutical companies worry that legal weed will undercut the market they've spent decades capturing, because it provides an alternative for people suffering from pain, seizures, and other ailments.
None of those incentives are changing, even as the edifice of marijuana prohibition crumbles away in other states. Josh Phillips was too old to get into the Epidiolex study. At 18, he is no longer a child, although the state continues treating him like one by preventing him from making decisions for himself about how to treat his medical condition. Josh says he's now using CBD oil in violation of state law, though he understandably does not want to discuss how he is obtaining it.
He believes it is helping him. He reports having fewer seizures, and less severe ones. He's been able to maintain a part-time job and he's helping coach the high school wrestling team, helping others chase the state title that eluded him.
He hopes to drive a car one day. Other Idaho families with seizure-stricken children have moved to Colorado or Utah or Washington to get the treatment that is legal there but illegal at home. Every state that borders Idaho has legal marijuana or legal CBD oil. The Phillipses say they are staying put in Salmon. It's the government, they say, that must change.
We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them.
Comments do not represent the views of Reason. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Je suis Woodchipper If neighboring states all have medical marijuana, and Colorado has recreational pot, it might be a lot easier to just drive over once a month.
How often does Josh have to dose himself? If it's daily, they'd have to bring contraband back with them, but if weekly, a road trip could do the trip without worrying about cops. In reality, we Idahoans love our government because it protects us from scary things like gays and marijuana and democrats.
Which is pretty funny when you consider how hard it is to convince non Idahoan Democrats to even visit Moscow. As to Idaho and FREEDOM, for most Idahoans, at least outside of Boise that word means what it did politically for most people in most of human history, which is basically the same thing it meant when Mel Gibson shouted it in Braveheart.
Leave us to run our home alone. This generally doesn't have much in common with individual Liberty, but then Idaho isn't really that current. Republicans have a problem with the truth When all the facts say otherwise.. Plus they get money from the pharma fat cats Then they look us in the eye and say the lobbyist money does not cloud their decision Republicans always sell their souls to money.
I strongly suspect they are in pretty close alignment with most Idahoans on this issue, who are probably a little bit to the left of where they were on this issue than they were when it was the state that sent Frank Church to the Senate.
Most of the states that approved medical exceptions for this have republican governors. These kids must suffer their seizures so the government can protect the children from suffering the horrible consequences of fewer seizures that devil weed. Butch is right, the government has no authority to tell anyone what they can or can't put into their own body. Individuals own their own body not the government. I fault the so-called progressive reading of the commerce clause, which not only gave us the war on drugs, but Obamacare and other forms of authoritarian unjustified laws.
If Congress can regulate this under the Commerce Clause, then it can regulate virtually anything—and the Federal Government is no longer one of limited and enumerated powers.
Unemployed Armenian Tranny I'm still trying to figure out how a non-psychoactive substance can even be regulated under the CSA, its basically a food suplement. As a person with epilepsy, I am especially outraged by this. I am one of the lucky ones with a "mild" case that is very responsive to medication with few side effects.
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