When the Indiana Legislature allowed a Senate committee to hear testimony on a medical marijuana-related bill, some proponents saw a glimmer of hope.
The measure would create a pilot program allowing some epileptic children to be treated with “hemp oil” derived from cannabis plants. It’s a far cry from a comprehensive medical marijuana program — such oil doesn’t contain enough THC to get a person high — but to supporters, it marked a significant shift after years of medical marijuana-related bills dying in the Senate without a hearing.
Indiana is among the last states to forbid even the use of marijuana extracts that are low in THC and high in cannabidiol, or CBD, a compound in the plant that studies suggest may help reduce epileptic seizures. Although federal law still considers marijuana illegal, more than half of U.S. states, including some conservative ones, have legalized full-scale medical marijuana for the treatment of certain conditions. Meanwhile, eight other states and Washington, D.C., have legalized the recreational use of the drug.
There are more than 10 Indiana bills that have been proposed this session pertaining to medical marijuana in some form or another. But advocates say the best chance of making any headway in the conservative state is by pushing for passage of a law that would allow for limited access to the low-THC, high-CBD extracts.
“It’s not a secret that more conservative states are a little more reluctant to go down this path than left-leaning, bluer states,” said Maggie Ellinger-Locke of the Marijuana Policy Project. “It’s not an uncommon situation.”
Republican state Sen. Blake Doriot, a co-author of the epilepsy bill whose adult son suffered from seizures for about a year and a half as a child, teared up in an interview with The Associated Press while talking about the fear his family lived with during