As the American populace pushes it’s government for more laws legalizing cannabis for both medicinal and recreational use, the need for this amazing plant is growing among families with children suffering from neurological disorders such as seizures and brain tumors. Both Colorado and Utah are seeking initiatives to legalize the use of extracts of the plant. Slowly but surely, cannabis-oil bills and measures are gaining ground in the fight to help young patients in need.
Most recently, a bill in Utah that would allow young children suffering with epilepsy access to seizure halting, non intoxicating cannabis-oil, cleared the first legislative hurdle in its way. An eight to two vote by The House Law Enforcement Committee will send the HB105 bill to the house floor. The decision was a hard one for Republican Paul Ray of Clearfield who said that he would do anything for his own child, although the decision puts the legislature in a difficult position. Deciding to overrule doctors in the interest of sick children was not an easy call to make.
The committee was moved by the observational studies that documented the cannabis-oil’s ability to stop seizures in children where all other remedies had been exhausted. Some of the other remedies were found to be brain damaging and caused more harm than good. Republican representative Dana Layton of Orem stated that to deny the children a short-term solution just because some held philosophical objections would be wrong. The bill would allow the purchase of “hemp extract” without the fear of prosecution. The hope is that cannabis will continue to gain ground in other states as well so that young patients there can have their needs met.
The bills sponsoring representative, Gage Froerer, has stated that his bill is not in any way a step towards legalizing medical marijuana. To allow epileptic children in Utah the beneficial use of “hemp oil” that will allow a better quality of life is his sole objective. It was noted that many families with sick children had uprooted their lives to move to states like Colorado where medical marijuana is legal. A Huntsville representative has pledged to amend the bill to only apply to seizure disorders amid concerns that the language in the bill is too vague.
In Colorado, where medical marijuana is legal and was recently legalized for recreational use, a Denver dispensary, The Green Solution, has launched a fundraising campaign to support the surge of pediatric cancer patients who seek alternative therapies for their ailments. The campaign is called the ‘Jonah Fund’, named after two-year-old Jonah Allen who in 2013 was diagnosed with an inoperable tumor on the left side of his brain. Jonah’s parents have found the cost of hemp therapy to be prohibitive, with that cost adding to their already massive hospital bills. The fund will help ease the burden on Jonah’s family and provide relief to this beautiful little boy.
For now, cannabis-oil and hemp extracts are the best and only hope for children suffering from life depriving conditions like epilepsy and brain tumors. Short term relief may be the only choice for many parents, as long-term side effect concerns are sadly not an issue for these children. Perhaps as the public continues to becomes more informed about cannabis’ beneficial uses, we will see it gaining ground for young patients who are suffering and dying in their need for relief.
Op-ed by Mai Nowlin