Senate dome

Domed ceiling over the Idaho Senate chamber

Epidiolex is a non-psychoactive pharmaceutical drug developed by a British firm that is a pure form of CBD oil. It is derived from cannabis, but has only tiny amounts of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. The FDA approved it in 2018 for treatment of severe seizures in children with specific disorders; it is the only FDA-approved form of cannabidiol, or CBD. Today, the annual Board of Pharmacy bill to update definitions of scheduled drugs in Idaho to fit with federal regulations, SB 1017, included removing Epidiolex from its current listing as a Schedule V drug in Idaho, and instead altering the definition of marijuana to recognize that it doesn’t include the FDA-approved Epidiolex.

The bill passed on a 30-3 vote. Those voting “no” were Sens. Carl Crabtree, R-Grangeville; Christy Zito, R-Hammett; and Regina Bayer, R-Meridian. Sen. Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise, who carried the agency bill, said afterward that she thought there might have been some confusion between this and industrial hemp, which federal law says can have up to 0.3% THC; Epidiolex can have only up to 0.1% THC. None of the dissenters debated against the bill.

“We have 135 kids in Idaho now receiving Epidiolex for seizures,” Wintrow told the Senate. The bill lists the chemical equation for Epidiolex and excludes it from the definition of marijuana.

Sen. Mary Souza, R-Coeur d’Alene, spoke out in favor of SB 1017. She noted that clinical trials of Epidiolex in Idaho showed children who had been suffering intense and frequent seizures got “remarkable help.” She said, “I think this has been successful. … Epidiolex was highly researched and highly purified. There were no other chemicals in it than what they needed for this treatment. And we can’t say that of other products that are on the open market or black market.”

Senate Health & Welfare Chairman Fred Martin, R-Boise, also spoke in favor of SB 1017, saying, “This is an Idaho bill. … I strongly support this bill.”

The measure also makes several other updates to Idaho’s list of scheduled drugs, mirroring the federal Drug Enforcement Administration’s controlled substance scheduling and descheduling decisions in 2020. It now moves to the House side.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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