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Charlotte's Web Medical Access Act

Fast Fact: the Charlotte's Web Medical Access Act of 2017, H.R. 2273, currently has 31 cosponsors; the Therapeutic Hemp Medical Access Act, S. 1008, has 11 Senate Cosponsors.

Update : As of April 2018, The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 S. 2667 and H.R. 5485, would legalize hemp and CBD as well.


movement around CBD reached its first all time, non-psychoactive high after the passage of the Farm Bill, the Coalition for Access Now moved forward to introduce Federal Legislation for the first time. That legislation was the Charlotte's Web Medical Access Act, directly inspired by the Charlotte's Web brand of CBD oil, which was named after Charlotte Figi, a very young girl with debilitating seizures, and she became the poster child and catalyst for a growing movement.

The following year, the bill was reintroduced along with its Senate Companion, S. 1333, the Therapeutic Hemp Medical Access Act. These bills have been front - row - center in the debate to legalize CBD. But are they the best bills to pass? The long term ramifications of capitulation with the FDA could result in big Pharma CBD. Also the House and Senate versions have some differences. Let's talk about the pros and the cons.

The Pros:

This legislation would fully legalize hemp production and extraction. Further, and importantly, it would fully legalize hemp extract and specifically, Cannabidiol, by excluding it from the Controlled Substances Act. The House bill then goes a step further and says that CBD will not be regulated by the FDA. On face value, this is everything we could dream for.

The Cons:

Within both bills combined, the word "Hemp" is only contained once- in the Title. The actual bill does not define or legalize "Hemp" or "Industrial Hemp", but rather, creates a new terminology around CBD. Using the definition of industrial hemp, verbatim, from the Industrial Hemp Farming Act and then SEC 7606 of the Farm Bill, the bills instead legalize "Cannabidiol-Rich Plants" .

This is problematic because firstly, hemp is hemp, why are they inventing a new word? Also not all hemp is necessarily rich in cannabidiol (ie, many fiber or seed varieties), but the limited definition in the bill does not include a CBD concentration. Therefore any farmer wanting to grow industrial hemp for building materials, for example, would technically be growing CBD rich plants, not hemp.

Another reason that citing CBD so overtly is problematic, is that there are hundreds of other non-psychoactive cannabinoids with untold medical potential. By only addressing CBD, it already closes doors for therapies using other cannabinoids.

But more than that is the problematic title of both bills, which relate to "Medical Access". These bills were written very specifically, in direct response to small children with very rare seizure disorder, who have already tried numerous medications. As such, CBD is viewed specifically in terms of its ability to save lives,, and as with other drugs with 'medical access', may only be available as and FDA approved drug for certain specific conditions as prescribed by a doctor.

While these bills do not specify much at all past removing CBD from the CSA, it creates a system of nomenclature in which CBD is still a type of drug. It is not unlikely that it could be rescheduled or otherwise heavily regulated by the pharmaceutical system. And as long as "CBD" is specified so clearly, other non-psychoactive cannabinoids could still be considered marihuana.

The Senate Version of the bill is a little shorter and cleaner than the House Version,

which includes a killer "Sunset Provision". This means that regardless of how great the bill is, it will expire in 3 years, and everything could revert unless another bill is passed in time. That other bill could very well re-designate CBD as a controlled substance, So that right there is a dealbreaker.

While the Senate bill, "The Therapeutic Hemp Medical Access Act", would remove hemp and CBD from the Controlled Substances Act. While it is better than its House version, it still is seen by some as problematic. By framing this as a medical issue we could unintetnioally paint ourselves into a corner - a corner where CBD is only available as another scheduled drug..

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