A Preteen’s Plight May Help Change Idaho’s Staunch Marijuana Regulations

The fight for and against the legalization of marijuana, at various levels of use and for varying purposes, is a hot button topic in the United States these days. Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia have legalized the use of cannabis for medicinal uses, with the details of that use varying from state to state, and amongst them, Colorado and Washington State have legalized recreational use as well. In many states, decriminalization of cannabis possession, often in small amounts, has also been enacted. Opposition, however, to these legalization efforts has not waned. Many other states are making strong statements that they have no intention of following in the current growing trend.

Idaho is among the staunchest defenders against the cannabis “invasion”. In 2013, the state legislature passed a resolution to affirm its stance against any kind of legalization of marijuana. This ‘no compromise” approach to cannabis law may have met its match in Alexis Carey, a 9-year-old girl who suffers from Dravet Syndrome, a kind of epilepsy that is rare and difficult to treat.

Alexis’s parents have tried all the seizure fighting medicines legally available and none of them are effectively treating her seizures which often can last longer than an hour at a time. Research led them to a treatment with much greater efficacy in fighting the seizures of Dravet, one derived from cannabis.

The treatment is made from plants with very low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical that produces the high associated with cannabis. The secret ingredient is the other main chemical component of cannabis, canabidiol (CBD). CBD is believed to have great beneficial effects in regards to epilepsy and some other neurological-related conditions. The treatment, an orally ingested oil, is claimed to have helped greatly in other Dravet cases, so the Careys’ research led them to appeal to the state legislature for an exception to the otherwise solid wall of prohibition.

While their initial reception was encouraging and they were told there was good chances for the proposal to be heard this year, as the legislative sessions proceeded throughout the year, they were later told it would likely not be heard in this session, citing inadequate time for researching and drafting a measure. For now, this exception to the strict no legalization policy, similar to ones passed in other “no legalization” states, is in the hands of the legislators and the Careys hope that perhaps next year, after this year’s election primaries, perhaps the plea will be heard.