Cannabidiol is a non-intoxicating cannabis extract with a variety of possible medical uses. Senate Bill 95 would add cannabidiol to the Schedule IV (least addictive) list of controlled substances and exclude it from the definition of marijuana. SB 95 won unanimous approval from Senate Judiciary Tuesday.
SB 95 appears to allow far broader use of cannabidiol than a 2016 bill that would have opened the door for using cannabidiol to treat children with epilepsy. I notice the following differences in the debate over the two bills:
- Last year, the only proponents who testified on SB 95 were a couple of parents who use cannabidiol to treat their kids’ illnesses. This year, along with several parents and advocates, three lobbyists for U.K.-based GW Pharmaceuticals and its U.S. operating unit Greenwich Biosciences spoke in favor of SB 95.
- Last year, the Department of Public Safety, the South Dakota Sheriffs Association, the State Medical Association, the Family Heritage Alliance, the Council of Mental Health Centers, and the State’s Attorneys Association all testified against the restrictive cannabidiol bill at its first hearing. Yesterday, no one testified in opposition to SB 95.
- Last year, when the more restrictive cannabidiol bill went before House Health and Human Services, Attorney General Marty Jackley testified against the bill. This year, Attorney General Jackley attended the first SB 95 hearing but only sat quietly behind the lobbyists for Greenwich Biosciences.
- Last year’s bill gave a detailed scientific definition of cannabidiol: “a nonpsychoactive cannabinoid found in the plant cannabis sativa L. or cannabis indica or any other preparation thereof that is essentially free from plant material, and has a tetrahydroconnabinol level of no more than three percent.” SB 95 defers to the feds and defines cannabidiol simply as “a drug product approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration.” An amendment yesterday added the word “product”.
Attorney General Jackley’s turn from opposition to silence aligns with his announcement last year that he supports partial legalization of FDA-approved cannabidiols. In his August 19, 2016, letter to the FDA and DEA on the subject, A.G. Jackley singled out two GW Pharmaceuticals products as hopeful developments:
We could read this letter as an indication of cautious acceptance of medical marijuana derivatives subject to strict federal review and regulation… although that sounds funny in describing the policies of a Republican who voted for Donald Trump. We could also read this letter as a sign that, once alerted by a substantial campaign donor (the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association gave Jackley’s PAC $1,500 last year) to the potential for Big Pharma to profit from cannabidiol, A.G. Jackley sees no reason to stand in the way of medical marijuana. GW Pharmaceuticals has ties to the American marijuana movement, but it has also built an effective monopoly on medical marijuana in several other countries.
GW Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: GWPH) stock rose a couple dollars Tuesday, closing above $132.