Key senator says no cannabis oil bill this year

Posted at 5:23 PM, Feb 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-05 19:29:43-05

During last year's session a number of families petitioned the Legislature to give an exception and allow the use of cannabidiol oil a hemp extract. Lawmakers passed the measure, but Governor Otter vetoed it. The senator who sponsored the bill last time says he won't try again this year.

"At this point in time I don't see us getting a bill passed and signed," said Sen. Curt McKenzie.

McKenzie,R-Nampa, is the chair of the state affairs committee. Last year he went to bat for parents asking to use CBD oil to treat their children’s seizures. He was let down when the Governor vetoed the bill.

"I was frustrated that we weren't able to let these families be able to use this supplement to help their children,” he said.

Governor C. L. “Butch” Otter created a loophole for a small number of children to get help though an expanded access program. However, a number of Treasure Valley kids suffering epileptic seizures qualify.

Their only hope is to legalize the oil, which contains a negligible amount of THC, the chemical that creates a high. McKenzie says he won't bring up the matter this year.

"I share their frustration,” he said. “I don't want to put them through that process again. It is a hard, emotional process. They're showing us videos of their babies suffering prolonged seizures. It is heart-rending. I'm not going to put them through that if we don't get this passed into law and I don't see us doing that this year."

In light of a program only a handful can use and no hope of a bill passing the Governor, McKenzie shares in the hopelessness felt by these parents.

"It's just ironic that you can put hemp oil on your salad but you can't use high cannabidiol oil, hemp oil, to stop your child from having seizures," he said.

Those Idaho families are putting their support behind a federal initiative to take CBD oil off its schedule one listing. They believe if they win that fight Idaho will conform.