In 17 states where recreational and medical marijuana is still illegal, a marijuana-derived substance called cannabidiol oil, or CBD oil, is available for use as a medical treatment. Only one governor in the country, Idaho’s Butch Otter, has blocked the passage of a CBD oil bill.
In a new Reason web feature, Eric Boehm takes a look at Otter’s decison to veto Idaho’s CBD oil bill in March 2015. The bill would have provided a small measure of hope for Idahoans suffering from chronic, untreatable seizures—people like Josh Phillips, a star high school wrestler who had to give up his dream of a state championship when his seizures became too severe to control.
With pharmaceutical and surgical treatments unsuccessful, the Phillips family and others in Idaho placed their hopes in the legalization of cannabidiol oil, or CBD, a form of medical marijuana. Though not guaranteed to work for everyone, CBD has been shown to be effective in controlling seizures in some epileptic patients. For that reason, it’s been legalized in dozens of states as a medical treatment, including many states where more widespread uses of medical marijuana remain banned.
In Idaho, a bill to allow people like Josh Phillips to access CBD oil was passed by the state legislature in 2015, only to be defeated by a group of powerful special interests—including cops, prosecutors, and pharmaceutical companies—with direct access to policy makers in Boise. Emails obtained by Reason reveal a behind-the-scenes effort organized by the state’s Office of Drug Policy to derail the CBD legislation and, after it passed against the wishes of Gov. Butch Otter and his administration, to use executive authority to replace the bill with an alternative treatment program that has done nothing to help Josh Phillips or many other Idahoans suffering from seizures.
With the threat of another veto hanging over Boise, even lawmakers who supported the CBD bill in 2015 are reluctant to take up the issue again when the legislature reconvenes in early 2017. More than half the country (including every state that borders Idaho) has some form of medical or recreational marijuana laws, but the drug warriors are still running the show in Boise.