Marijuana legalization efforts got a big boost this week when a new bipartisan bill was introduced in Congress to legalize strains used to treat illness.
The bill took its inspiration from a strain of marijuana called Chartlotte’s Web for 7-year-old Charlotte Figi, a Colorado girl with a rare form of epilepsy. Her parents treated her with a strain of marijuana that was high in CBD, a non-psychoactive compound in marijuana, but low in THC, which is what causes the high in smokers.
After traditional medicine failed to help, Charlotte’s Web greatly reduced the daily seizures the girl suffered.
Now a bipartisan group of lawmakers are trying to make theurapeutic marijuana such as Chartlotte’s web exempt from the Controlled Substances Act, which make them illegal under federal law.
The legislation, called “Charlotte’s Web Medical Hemp Act of 2014,” has generated support even from those who oppose marijuana.
“This bill in no way changes my stance on marijuana — I still disagree with the recreational use of marijuana,” said Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), one of the bill’s co-sponsors. “However, these children and individuals like them deserve a chance to lead a healthy and productive life and our government shouldn’t stand in the way.”
Perry said he expects the bill to have overwhelming support, and experts agree.
“It wouldn’t be surprising if we see broad support for this proposal,” said Mason Tvert, communications director at the Marijuana Policy Project, which advocates for marijuana and medical marijuana legalization, in an interview with CNN. “If this bill gets support, it will demonstrate that there is recognition of marijuana’s medical benefits.
There have already been 11 states to legalize CBD, while 23 other states allow some measure of medical marijuana.
Earlier in the week, the New York Times expressed support for broader legalization of marijuana. In an editorial, the paper compared criminalization of marijuana to the failed attempt at alcohol prohibition. The paper argued that the current ban on marijuana has been “inflicting great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol.”