The Virginia House of Delegates Friday unanimously approved Del. Ben Cline’s bill to allow Virginia physicians to dispense cannabidiol oil or THC-A oil to those with diagnosed medical conditions.
The remaining hurdle now is passage of companion legislation in the Virginia Senate. Consideration of the Senate bill is expected on Monday.
If passed, the non-hallucinogenic marijuana derivative could be given in a drop form to people suffering from a variety of medical conditions, according to Cline, R-Rockbridge. Under current Virginia law, the oil is allowed only for intractable epilepsy.
“Rather than picking two or three conditions each year to add to a list, the best thing is to add it to all conditions as determined by a doctor,” said Cline.
A physician would have to determine that a person would benefit from taking the oil and certify that.
“It can be used for Crohn’s Disease, MS and cancer,” Cline said. He further said the oil is a much better alternative to the use of opioids.
“You can avoid a slide in dependence to painkillers,” he said.
A single dose of the drop form of cannabidiol oil is only a few drops, according to Cline.
Possession of the oil would remain illegal if not for medical reasons.
“If a police officer determines the person had it for medical reasons, they would not be charged,” Cline said.
The delegate said the legislation would provide an affirmative defense to possession of the oil.
Cline served on Virginia’s Joint Commission on Health Care, which released a report last fall on the use of cannabidiol oil.
The study revealed that the therapeutic effects of cannabinoids were found in four conditions: chronic pain, nausea/vomiting (from chemotherapy), multiple sclerosis and HIV/AIDS.
Nikki Narduzzi, a Staunton resident and the patient coalition director for Cannabis Commonwealth, said she is eager for the passage of the legislation in the Senate.
Narduzzi, who has suffered from Crohn’s Disease since 1999, said use of the oil would provide chronic pain relief to many older people.
“This really is about trying to have the best quality of life,” Narduzzi said. She credited Cline with the 98-0 passage of the legislation Friday in the Virginia House.
“He absolutely was the right patron to have,” Narduzzi said. “We consider him one of our leading patient advocates.”
The Virginia Senate legislation has been put forward by Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant, R-Henrico, a physician. Dunnavant has said that any decision about medical cannabis should be made by a doctor. She has said this is not a legislative decision.