A recently introduced bill would allow residents to use oil extracted from cannabis plants as long as the product is prescribed by a licensed practitioner.
Under the proposed legislation, Idahoans seeking to use the oil for medical purposes for themselves or their minor children would have to apply to the Idaho Board of Pharmacy for a cannabidiol registration card.
Cannabidiol, otherwise known as CBD oil, comes from cannabis but contains little or no THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis.
"There's a lot of medicinal qualities to CBD oil," The bill's sponsor, Rep. Dorothy Moon (R-Stanley) told EastIdahoNews.com. "From epileptic seizures to fibromyalgia to chemotherapy, you know, nausea and pain from other issues. It is amazing."
Moon was adamant people need to understand that CBD oil does not come from marijuana. She said CBD oil comes from hemp, which she claims is not the same as a marijuana plant.
"This is not marijuana and I don't want it confused with marijuana," Moon said. "This is a substance that is very natural. Obviously, it has medicinal purposes to it and it helps so many people with so many things."
Moon's definition isn't exactly right though.
The DEA defines hemp and marijuana as different parts of the same cannabis plant. Hemp refers to the stalks and sterilized seeds of the plant that is used for making industrial rope, clothing, paper and other products. Marijuana is the flower, leaves and resin of the plant and is generally used for medicinal or recreational purposes as a drug.
The entire cannabis plant can be breed for higher or lower levels of THC and CBD, according to a study published in the American Journal of Botany.
Trey Willison a cannabis breeder originally from Idaho living in Eugene, Oregon said he breeds both THC rich and CBD rich cannabis plants. He explained under Oregon law hemp is any product derived from the Cannabis Sativa plant that only contains 0.3 percent THC before it's harvested.
Willison told EastIdahoNews.com that other than the amount of TCH in the plants, "the only difference (between the cannabis used for hemp or marijuana) is what side of the fence it's put on."
Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter vetoed legislation in 2015 that would have allowed children with severe forms of epilepsy to use CBD oil.
"My bill is very different (from the 2015 bill) in the fact that a doctor has to prescribe the CBD oil," Moon explained. "At that point, when you see your physician he contacts the Board of Pharmacy and through the IT system at the Board of Pharmacy a card will be immediately printed in real time and sent back to the doctor."
She said this would provide law enforcement with a way to know if the person with CBD oil is authorized to have it. Something the 2015 bill did not do.
Moon said she is confident her bill will be passed.
"I've already got 40 co-sponsors," Moon said. "I expect to see that number go much higher than that. We've got 105 legislators in this capital and in two days I've already gotten 40.
Currently, 18 states allow use of "low THC, high cannabidiol (CBD)" products for medical reasons in limited situations or as a legal defense.
The House Health and Welfare Committee introduced the bill Thursday. It must now pass a full hearing.