Just as legislatures and pending 2018 citizen ballot issues are set to expand likely MMJ access by 6 to 11 states, the final three holdouts – Nebraska, Kansas, and Idaho – seem determined to resist any changes to their strict cannabis prohibitions.

As mothers swamped hearing rooms on bills changing CBD access laws throughout the South and other conservative states, the three midwestern red states look to resist the most minor of changes. For South Dakota and Indiana, a fight for CBD allowance may still erupt, pushed by GW Pharma and US subsidiary GW BioSciences, which will bring Epidiolex to those states and seeks a legal wedge to keep “hemp-based CBD oils” off retailer shelves.

“Legalization by legislation is no substitute for rigorous FDA review,” writes Nebraska governor Pete Ricketts. “Marijuana should be subject to the same thorough examination by the FDA to study any potential adverse effects,” he added, citing his total opposition to any state changes to strict MJ laws.

In Kansas, the state’s attorney general released a 5-page opinion to local district attorneys, saying “We believe it is unlawful to possess or sell products or substances containing any amount of cannabidiol.” AG Derek Schmidt notes one exception is found with Kansas lawmakers passing a GW Pharma-sponsored bill in 2017 which designates CBD a controlled substance schedule 4 drug when “the sole active ingredient of a drug product [is] approved by the FDA.” For GW, the entry of Epidiolex would be such a drug, and the company also hopes to install a similar rule in South Dakota, another state which has no MMJ laws but is likely to see a citizen-sponsored effort to place it on a November ballot.

Indiana last year passed a CBD for epilepsy bill but did not approve any language setting up legal retail sales or distribution. Some 60 stores had CBD samples seized from their shelves and were told in November by AG Curtis Hill that CBD remained illegal and on schedule 1. Indiana governor Eric Holcomb told State Excise Police to stop threatening CBD sellers until the state legislature could amend last year’s registry bill to include ways for patients to legally obtain CBD at retail or from caregivers.

Idaho, as the likely most anti-cannabis state of all, saw a 2015 CBD for childhood epilepsy bill passed by the legislature but vetoed by Republican governor C.L. Butch Otter. Now conservative State Rep. Dorothy Moon has brought a bill which would allow one-year CBD permits issued for health practitioner issued “prescriptions” for CBD for certain conditions. If passed, Idaho watchers still expect governor Otter to veto the measure, fearful CBD liberalization will lead to further cannabis liberalization.

Across the country, most physician groups have remained wary of approaching any MMJ “prescriptions,” not wanting to recommend any federally-placed schedule 1 drugs. Using FDA’s pending approval of their epilepsy drug (Epidiolex) may drive all-other products called CBD (from hemp or MJ oils) simply by changing state law to favor GW’s drug as the sole legal means to access CBD in that state.

Polling in Oklahoma last month revealed a 57% favorable voter sentiment for medical marijuana access, and that may help pass a June 26th statewide vote on MMJ. Similarly, expectations remain that Missouri, Utah, and Michigan will all pass “rigorous MMJ” ballot issues likely to be in front of voters this November.

GW Pharma this Spring may return to some of the “weak-MMJ” states to seek state law changes only allowing CBD-access from FDA approved substances, or its own products only, thereby forbidding “full spectrum” and natural alternatives from hemp and/or heavy-CBD marijuana plants.

Pro-CBD forces are working to address several “weak-MMJ” states (ie., Tennessee, Kentucky, and North Carolina) to clean up restrictive language calling for physician “orders” or CBD research only. Many of the 19 CBD-only states are also considering expanding eligible health conditions (beyond intractable childhood epilepsy) to include opioid abuse disorder, PTSD, most types of pain, and cancer effects mitigation as approved for cannabis therapies.

See a state-by-state summary of allowable conditions and state policies at:

https://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=006473

ALSO: SEE STATE MMJ estimated patient counts from this graph (below) from New Frontier Data in Washington, DC.