An experimental treatment for children suffering from seizures and people with glaucoma and other disorders would be more accessible in Wisconsin under a bill headed to Gov. Scott Walker's desk.
The Wisconsin Assembly voted unanimously on Tuesday to allow the possession of cannibidioid (CBD) oil for a medical condition with a doctor's approval. The Senate approved the bill 31-1 last month.
The oil, derived from marijuana plants, has been used to treat seizures in children. Its use was legalized in Wisconsin in 2014, but under current law only licensed providers can obtain it. This legislation would ease those rules to allow easier access.
The legislation would allow possession of CBD oil as long as a doctor has certified it is being used for a medical condition. It would also require the state to follow suit within 30 days if the federal government were to reclassify CBD oil so it is no longer a Schedule I drug. Its use would not be limited to seizure conditions, as previous versions had required.
"It’s an exciting day but it’s also a little bittersweet," said Rep. Scott Krug, R-Nekoosa, who authored the bill with Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine.
Krug noted some children who would have benefited from the legislation have died since the Legislature first visited the issue, but said it's "even more important today ... we have a process that we can have doctors and patients make the decisions for themselves about treatments that are highly effective for the disorders they’re facing."
Despite having broad, bipartisan support when a similar bill was introduced last session, a handful of Republican senators who were concerned it would open the door to marijuana legalization blocked its passage in the Senate.
An amendment from Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, to expand the bill to legalize medical marijuana, was not passed.
Taylor and other Democrats spoke in support of and voted for the bill, but said it doesn't do enough, encouraging their Republican colleagues to consider medical marijuana.
Rep. Joel Kleefisch, R-Oconomowoc, argued marijuana legalization "could be considered a gateway situation especially with the heroin epidemic we’re dealing with throughout the state."
Walker has signaled he will likely sign the bill into law. The governor does not support legalizing marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes.
"This bill, as I understand it, they’ve been very focused on keeping it narrow, specifically to address the concern that parents had," Walker told reporters last month. "As long as it stayed that focused I'm willing to support it. I just want to make sure it’s not so broad as to open the door to legalizing marijuana in the state."
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