COLORADO — In March 2014 parents of Utah children with severe epilepsy welcomed a new state law that allowed them to obtain a cannabis extract from Colorado that can help alleviate the condition.
The new law did not legalize medical marijuana production in Utah but enabled families meeting certain restrictions to obtain the extract Charlotte’s Web, which was developed in Colorado by Joel Stanley and his brothers and named after the first child treated with it. Derived from a strain of cannabis very low in THC, the hallucinogenic chemical in marijuana, Charlotte’s Web is high in CBD, a chemical shown to be effective in fighting seizures among some patients.
The law took effect on July 1 and expires in 2016. It’s restricted to those with severe epilepsy for whom the regular treatments are not effective, and requires a neurologist’s consent to obtain and use the extract. Despite the news law, medical marijuana remains illegal in Utah and under federal law, leaving families are willing to take that risk to treat their children with the oil.
Similar medical cannabis oil bills were also passed in Alabama, Arizona, Missouri, and Florida in 2014, and Wyoming in 2015.
Since implementing the Utah Department of Health has issued 50 “hemp oil” cards over the past year to qualifying patients who obtain their extract from the non-profit Realm of Caring, which administers Charlotte’s Web, now one of the best-known CBD strains in America. The organization manages a wait list of over 12,000 made up mostly of children suffering from epilepsy. An estimated 73.5 percent are seeing a 50 percent or greater reduction in seizures, according to the organization and third-party doctors who collect the data independently.
Realm of Caring has scaled up production, recent;y harvesting its first-ever outdoor hemp crop in Yuma County, Colorado, with oil extraction levels beating initial projections.