INDIANAPOLIS — Jason Straw’s migraines seem to ebb and flow with the legal rollercoaster debate surrounding CBD in Indiana.
When there has been turmoil over whether cannabidiol (CBD) is legal, he’s cut down on its use and noticed an increase in migraines. When state officials move to legalize the hemp extract, his brain is calmer, less stressed, he says.
He previously experienced up to 20 migraines a month, he says. Cannabis-based medication helps reduce those to three or less a month.
CBD, which has been found to hold some therapeutic promise, was approved for use last year by the Indiana General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Eric Holcomb. But Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill said the legislature failed to legalize its sale. That discrepancy is being addressed this session.
“When Curtis Hill said it was illegal, I tried to come off of my cannabis and I went right back to having three migraines a week,” Straw said. “When Gov. Holcomb came out and said that he was putting a moratorium allowing us to use it again ... my migraines slowly went away.
“It’s just amazing. If you allow the doctors and the patients to have another tool to use besides opioids, then you allow them to have a choice to have a freer life,” said Straw, 44, a Goshen native who now lives in Westfield.
Straw takes CBD, both as an ointment and in pill form, to relieve the agonizing headaches. Last week, he was in good spirits as he gathered with a handful of CBD proponents at the Statehouse.
Two bills are passing through the legislature that are intended to, in one, legalize CBD for all Hoosiers and, in another, support the hemp industry which is currently under tight controls limited to research. House Bill 1137, authored by Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, intends to start the process in opening industrial hemp production. The bill authorizes the Indiana Department of Agriculture to set up a program to study industrial hemp and its products, including CBD. The bill also eliminates the state registry, created last session, for patients with epilepsy who are prescribed CBD.
“This issue gets more and more exciting as we move along,” Lucas said. “We’re seeing more momentum pick up for the hemp industry and the CBD issue here in Indiana that hopefully will be resolved very shortly.”
This week, House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, was asked about the CBD bills, as well as his view on Sunday alcohol sales, and said, “I think policymakers have spoken clearly on both of these issues that these are things Hoosiers want, these are things that policymakers want.”
House Bill 1137 “would clarify the law,” said Straw, who is married and has three children.
Another bill that passed the Senate eliminates the registry and allows for the manufacture of hemp extracts that have less than a 0.3 percent THC content, which produces the high in marijuana.
Straw is a retired U.S. Air Force captain who served in the nurse corps during two tours in Afghanistan. He feels that his migraines may have developed in part while serving in Afghanistan and inhaling dust from open-air pits where trash is burned.
Straw considers Hill a “good leader,” an elected official whose decisions have helped CBD proponents develop their legislative approach.
“He tells you what he believes. He tells you what he’s doing. He leads. I can respect that,” Straw said of Hill. “I thank Curtis Hill for a wonderful job and showing us what we need to do to make this happen.”
Also, a resolution passed through the House 94-0 urging an interim study committee to look at the impact in other states of legalizing medical marijuana. The resolution, by Rep. Matt Lehman, R-Berne, seeks the study because “there is increasing science-based evidence that marijuana and its derivatives may have various medically useful applications.”
The resolution also states that marijuana has been difficult to research because the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has categorized it as a Schedule 1 drug.