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Virginia passes bill to produce medical marijuana oil

By Shawn Price
Virginia passes bill to produce medical marijuana oil
Virginia lawmakers unanimously passed a law Wednesday making the production and distribution of certain marijuana oils legal in the state for treatment of epilepsy. A law in the state last year, cleared the way by first protecting patients and caregivers from prosecution for possession of the oils, but didn't give them a way to legally obtain it. Photo: Atomazul / Shutterstock

RICHMOND, Va., March 10 (UPI) -- Virginia lawmakers passed a bill allowing the production and use of marijuana oils for patients with epilepsy. The bill passed both houses unanimously.

However, the passing of the bill remained controversial because it only would apply to people with intractable epilepsy. Marijuana use is still otherwise illegal at a state and federal level.

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"This is a landmark victory," said Jenn Michelle Pedini of Marijuana advocate group, Cannabis Commonwealth. "There have been years of blood, sweat and tears that we have poured into achieving these very minor reforms."

But Pedini said the legislation doesn't go far enough.

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"It is a type of medical discrimination," she said. "Why is a child dying from cancer less important than a child suffering from intractable epilepsy?"

The bill will create a way to process THCa and CBD oils and will allow families to get certificates from their doctor or a board of health that will provide an "affirmative defense" for having cannabis oil.

"The greatest allies I had in this were the families of these kids," said bill sponsor Sen. David Marsden. "They were relentless. They were positive."

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A law passed in the state last year protected patients or their caretakers from being prosecuted for using the oils -- which help ease seizures, but do not intoxicate a patient -- but it didn't make production of the oils legal and it didn't allow for patients or caregivers to legally obtain them.

The oils are currently sold legally only in Colorado, but shipping them across state lines is a violation of federal law. Some parents have had to risk prosecution for traveling to Colorado bringing the oil back. The 30-day shelf life of the oils also required parents to make the trips on a regular basis.

The legislation now heads to the desk of Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

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