House passes bill to legalized cannabis-derived MS medication

By Ruth Brown, Idaho Report

On Monday, the Idaho House of Representatives passed a bill to legalize a new cannabis-derived medication in a 65-5 vote. 

The bill would apply to a medication called Nabiximols and will be legalized by the FDA. It is already legal in 25 countries.

The five no votes in the House came from Reps. Wendy Horman, R-Idaho Falls, Brent Crane, R-Nampa, Rick Youngblood, R-Nampa, Julie Yamamoto, R-Caldwell, and John Vander Woude, R-Nampa. 

HB 446 now moves to the Senate.

Currently, Nabiximols would be illegal to possess in Idaho. Should the bill pass the Senate, Nabiximols would no longer be a Schedule 1 controlled substance, making it legal to use in clinical trials. When it is approved by the FDA, it would be legal to prescribe.

Nabiximols is an oral spray derived from marijuana and is being studied in the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS) and other neurological disorders. 

Rep. Fred Wood, R-Burley, sponsored the bill on the floor.

“I know that when you talk about things like this, everybody gets a little concerned,” said Wood, a retired physician and chairman of the House Health and Welfare Committee.

But Wood said this would not be the first cannabis-derived medication in use, noting that in 2018, Idaho legalized Epidiolex, a cannabidiol-derived medication used to treat seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome in patients 2 years of age or older.

In 1985, the state legalized Marinol, genetically called dronabinol, which is also a cannabis-derived medication. Marinol is used to treat severe nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy and other illnesses. It is approved for use by both the FDA and the DEA.

<strong>Ruth Brown</strong> | Producer
Ruth Brown | Producer

Ruth Brown grew up in South Dakota and her first job out of college was covering the South Dakota Legislature. She’s since moved on to Idaho lawmakers. Brown spent 10 years working in print journalism, including newspapers such as the Idaho Statesman and Idaho Press, where she’s covered everything from the correctional system to health care issues. She joined Idaho Reports in 2021 and looks forward to telling stories about how state policy can impact the lives of regular Idahoans.

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