Idaho parents and guardians may soon be able to administer limited forms of medical marijuana to their children on school property following the passing of a bill in the state Senate. Another proposal laying out new marijuana testing rules also gained the approval of Idaho lawmakers.
The school bill seeks to help students that need medical marijuana for relief from chronic illnesses. It allows marijuana-infused products, but specifically bans smokable cannabis and forms of marijuana that contain high levels of the psychoactive compound THC.
Low THC, High CBD
The bill is instead oriented towards marijuana grown primarily for its medicinal properties, such as strains high in the non-intoxicating chemical CBD.
“THC is what recreational users use to get high,” said Republican Sen. Ann Rivers, of La Center. “You could eat CBD all day long and never cop a buzz.”
Most cannabis contains varying levels of both THC and CBD, but breeding techniques allow growers to produce medical strains of the plant that have little to no THC.
Parents will administer treatment
Concerns over liability and licensure are addressed by the bill asserting parents’ responsibility to administer treatment, meaning that school officials such as nurses are not involved.
The new rules can be suspended owing to a trigger clause in the bill if federal officials were to intervene and threaten the school’s funding over the practice.
In spite of some expressed reservations about the unintended consequences of the bill, notably from Sen. Mike Padden (R-Spokane Valley), it easily passed in a 41-4 vote with strong support from conservatives.
“I think it’s worth any risk that might be there,” said Sen. Curtis King, a Yakima Republican. “These families need our help.”
Standardized cannabis testing
The Senate also passed a proposed change to state marijuana testing laws.
Marijuana markets around the country have grappled with the problem of measuring and verifying criteria such as strength, pesticide content, and presence of mold in their products. The claims made by marijuana producers on their packaging and advertisements are therefore sometimes hard to verify.
In Washington, the state Liquor and Cannabis Board is responsible for overseeing lab certifications. Last year though, a Washington Department of Ecology report identified gaps in testing and accreditation rules. These include an absence of detailed standards for labs to follow.
The marijuana testing bill, passed in a 44-1 vote, would transfer oversight of marijuana labs to the Department of Ecology. Work groups would also be created to study issues such as the presence of pesticides in cannabis.
“In the nascency of the industry we had a lot of people pop up and say they were labs,” said Rivers. “It’s going to make for safer products.”
Under the proposal, the Department of Ecology must now draw up new lab standards for approval by lawmakers in 2020 and 2021.
Both bills will now move back to the House in Idaho for final approval of amendments.