Congressman Scott Perry, a Repubican representing Pennsylvania's 4th District in the United States House of Representatives, has introduced H.R. 5226, the “Charlotte's Web Medical Hemp Act of 2014,”a bill to legalize CBD (cannabidiol) oil throughout the entire United States. The bill was introduced on July 28th and was referred to the House's Energy & Commerce committee, as well as the House Judiciary Committee.

Bill Would Remove Prohibition of Hemp and CBD from Controlled Substances Act

The purpose of the bill is to, “amend the Controlled Substances Act to exclude therapeutic hemp and cannabidiol from the definition of marihuana, and for other purposes.” Low-THC cannabis is essentially hemp, which are strains of cannabis that contain very low levels of THC. Recently Florida passed SB 1030, the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014, to legalize low-THC cannabis and CBD oil. Under Florida's SB 1030, low-THC cannabis is defined as having less than 0.8% THC, but under HR 5226 “therapeutic hemp” is defined as having a “concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.” SB 1030 requires low-THC cannabis strains to have 10% or higher concentration of CBD, but the federal bill sets no thresholds for CBD levels.

Medical Hemp Act Could Help Implement and Protect State Medical Cannabis Laws

Florida is not the only state to have passed a limited low-THC medical cannabis bill,10 other states have also passed similar low-THC medical cannabis bills, including Alabama, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin. However, many of these laws are not likely to be fully implemented without either the Charlotte's Web Medical Hemp Act passing at the federal level, or until broader medical cannabis acts are passed in those states.

The Charlotte's Web Medical Hemp Act of 2014 states that therapeutic hemp and CBD, “are excluded from the definition of marihuana under,” the Controlled Substances Act. The bill also protects state medical cannabis programs, under Section 3 (b), which states, “State Law.--Nothing in this Act shall prohibit or otherwise restrict any activities related to the use, production, or distribution of marijuana in a State in which such activities are legal under State law.”

Suffering Children Change Perry's Mind About Medical Hemp

At a press conference held in Pennsylvania, Rep. Scott Perry told reporters, “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.” Joel Stanley, one of the developers of the Charlotte's Web strain was also at Rep. Perry's press conference announcing the introduction of the Charlotte's Web Medical Hemp Act.

Perry, a conservative Republican, was convinced that legalizing low-THC medical cannabis was the right thing to do after being visited by constituents from his district who were parents of children that suffered from epilepsy. Rep. Perry has stated that he opposes the legalization of cannabis for recreational use and that his legislation is intended to address a specific need. In a press release, Rep. Perry said, “Earlier this year I was approached by three local families whose children suffer from severe epilepsy. As a father, I can’t imagine how helpless and crestfallen I’d feel to be essentially out of options, without any significant way to help my child; and these families live with this circumstance every single day. Their heartbreaking situations compelled me to act at the federal level to enable their access to a supplement that literally has changed lives – not only in the form of relief for the individual who suffers from this condition, but subsequently  for their families and loved ones as well.”

“Unfortunately, this plant and its derivatives and extracts are currently banned for medical use at the federal level and are unavailable to the citizens of Pennsylvania; this legislation would remedy that.  This bill in no way changes my stance on marijuana—I still disagree with the recreational use of marijuana; 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.”

For now the Charlotte's Web Medical Hemp Act of 2014 awaits consideration in the House Energy and Commerce, and the Judiciary Committees, once voted out of those two committees it will go before the full House for consideration.

For more information on H.R. 5226, the Charlotte's Web Medical Hemp Act of 2014 go to: https://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/5226

For Rep. Scott Perry's press release go to: http://perry.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/congressman-perry-introduces-bipartisan-legislation-to-help-children