Senator apologizes for improper closed-door meeting, says fate of CBD oil bill remains undecided


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BOISE — The Senate Health and Welfare Committee violated Idaho’s open meetings law when the chairmen held a closed-door meeting to kill the CBD oil bill, according to the Associated Press.

The AP reports that the Senate Health and Welfare Committee Chairman Lee Heider (R-Twin Falls) asked that the decision to hold HB 577 be vacated, giving the bill another chance to be heard.

According to the AP, Heider said he acknowledged that Senate Rule 20 was violated by holding an unapproved executive session.

During that meeting, Heider was overheard telling committee members that he had told Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter that he would not give the bill a hearing as long as he was the committee chair.

Otter vetoed a bill in 2015 that would have allowed children who suffered from severe forms of epilepsy to use cannabis-derived CBD oil.

“My bill is very different (from the 2015 bill) in the fact that a doctor has to prescribe the CBD oil,” Rep. Dorothy Moon (R-Stanley), the bill’s sponsor, told in January. “At that point, when you see your physician, he contacts the Board of Pharmacy and through the IT system at the Board of Pharmacy a card will be immediately printed in real time and sent back to the doctor.”

The bill has sparked debate over the differences between hemp and marijuana. Moon claims the two are completely different plants. However, the DEA defines hemp and marijuana as different parts of the same cannabis plant. Hemp being the stem and seeds and marijuana being the flowering buds and leaves.

According to Trey Willison, a cannabis breeder originally from Idaho living in Eugene, Oregon explained he breeds both high THC low CBD cannabis plants and high CBD low THC plants. He said the only difference between the plants are their THC and CBD content.

HB 577 would allow the use of low THC (0.3 percent THC) for medical purposes. Something 18 other states currently allow.

When asked about the status of the CBD oil bill, Heider told the Spokesman-Review, “I guess I’m still holding it. But the committee hasn’t voted to hold it. I don’t know if I’ll bring it out at some point.”