For the last several years parents of children with treatment-resistant epilepsy have appeared before legislative committees across the country asking that Cannabidiol be approved for treatment of their children.

Numerous anecdotal stories asserted that CBD, a derivative of Cannabis contained in Cannabidiol, significantly reduced the number of seizures experienced by their children. Some children were reported to have multiple seizures each day.

There was initial skepticism on the part of legislators and law enforcement because CBD is extracted from the same family of plants that produce marijuana. The FDA completed Phase III trial of the drug in 2016 and concluded that the use of Cannabidiol may result in a 35-40%reduction in seizures in the target group. After finding such a significant result, federal approval of the drug is now being fast-tracked by the FDA.

This year, with the sponsorship of Representative Bill Friend and the assistance of Indiana’s Prosecutors, a bill was passed that accomplished what parents had sought and also provided safeguards and limitations wanted by law enforcement. This bill does not in any way authorize the use of medical marijuana. This explanation is intended to counteract the misinformation about the change in the law.

In order to be eligible for Cannabidiol, a patient must have attempted the use of at least two other forms of epilepsy treatment, without success. Cannabidiol must then be prescribed by a licensed physician who is also board certified in neurology. There is not a legal source of Cannabidiol in Indiana because the manufacture and distribution of the drug is not authorized by Indiana law.

CBD oil is extracted from the hemp plant, which is a plant in the cannabis family. Cannabis is also known as marijuana, but the active ingredient in marijuana is THC. It is almost entirely missing from Cannabidiol, which can contain no more than 3% THC, including precursors and derivatives. Cannabidiol must be at least 5% CBD. Using Cannabidiol, even in large quantities, cannot make you high because of the extremely low level of THC permitted.

In order to legally possess Cannidol, a parent or guardian must register with the State of Indiana. The registry will be available to law enforcement to verify the authority of the caregiver to possess the chemical. The container must be clearly labeled. If a caregiver is found with CBD in his or her possession, it is a defense to the crime of possession as long as the patient and caregiver are registered, the container is clearly labeled and the caregiver has a reasonable belief that the chemical is legitimately Cannabidiol.

What this legislation does is legalize the chemical, not the plant from which it is derived. It does not provide for cultivation, manufacture or distribution of Cannabidiol from either the cannabis plant or the hemp plant. Cannabidiol may have other health benefits, which may be discovered through ongoing research. However, the only use permitted in Indiana is for the treatment of treatment-resistant epilepsy. And again, this change in the law does not constitute approval of medical marijuana. This narrow exception will not in any way change how law enforcement will apply and enforce other drug laws. Marijuana is still illegal in Indiana, as is any oil or resin derived from a hemp or cannabis plant, with the exception of Cannabidiol.

 

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