- Associated Press - Monday, April 6, 2015

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - The fate of a bill to legalize oil extracted from marijuana plants to treat children with severe epilepsy now lies with Idaho Gov. Butch Otter.

The Idaho House voted 39-30 to approve the bill Monday, but it remains unclear whether Otter will sign the legislation, which has garnered opposition from his own drug policy office, as well as prosecutors and law enforcement.

The proposal has been dubbed “Alexis’ bill” after 10-year-old Alexis Carey, who has a rare form of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome. Her parents have been lobbying lawmakers to allow the oil for the past year and a half.

Supporters say the extract oil can reduce the frequency and severity of seizures in children with epilepsy. But opponents say it marks a slippery slope toward medical marijuana.

“I’m genuinely concerned about looking on this from only an emotional viewpoint,” said Republican Rep. Richard Wills from Glenns Ferry, who voted no. “We have to look at this from a rational, logical viewpoint today.”

Republican Rep. Dell Raybould from Rexburg, who supported the plan, told fellow lawmakers about his granddaughter, who died when she was 5 years old after suffering frequent seizures.

“I don’t know if this product would have given her relief or not, but everything in the world would have been worth it,” he said.

But the plan also prompted concerns that the non-psychotropic oil could cause problems with enforcing and prosecuting other drug crimes.

“This bill changes the approach Idaho has taken to drug policy and does so based on anecdote, not scientific evidence,” said GOP Rep. Luke Malek from Coeur d’Alene. Malek, a former prosecutor, says that the legislation would hinder the work of drug-sniffing dogs as well as require new equipment for testing in state labs.

Marijuana extract oil is legal in 12 other states that have also banned medical marijuana.

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