By Christina Ramey
INDIANAPOLIS – A bill that would allow people who suffer from treatment-resistant epilepsy to use cannabidiol, also known as CBD oil, passed the Senate on Thursday.
House Bill 1148, sponsored by Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport, would make the use of CBD oil legal for the treatment of specific forms of epilepsy that don’t respond to traditional treatments and medications.
The bill has gone through changes since it was first presented in February by author Rep. William Friend, R-Macy, who authored the bill.
“We’ve defined CBD by its molecular compound, which is different, and we’ve done that because it’s very specific, not open to interpretation, not open to spin. There are no loopholes there,” Head said.
This change is to allow products that are already available and have CBD oil in them to remain legal.
Lawmakers also removed the provision providing immunity to health care providers who recommend CBD oil because it is not a prescription. Instead the physician must notify the state board of health that the patient is eligible for CBD oil. Then the patient can register with the state.
Another change in the bill is that anyone, not only children, who suffers from treatment-resistant epilepsy can register to use CBD oil.
Head said lawmakers worked with law enforcement to ensure cannabidiol can only be used by patients who truly need it.
“We’ve gotten the language so specific that I don’t think anyone could use recreational marijuana and claim they’re treating epilepsy under this law,” Head said.
However, some legislators are concerned about the possible consequences of legalizing CBD oil.
“I think that despite safe guards that have been put in place, I still have concerns this is laying a pathway to legalizing marijuana,” Sen. Erin Houchin, R-Salem, said.
Head disagreed, saying he didn’t work on the bill with the intention of legalizing marijuana.
HB 1148 passed the Senate with a 36-13 vote. The House still has to vote on it before the bill can move to the governor for his final decision.
Christina Ramey is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.