Earlier this week, a unanimous vote was placed by the Senate in Kentucky to pass Bill 124, which allows a marijuana oil to be used to treat various forms of childhood epilepsy. The bill was sponsored by Louisville Republican Senator Julie Denton, whose state joins Utah and Georgia as other locations trying to pass a similar bill.
In the U.S. there are 2.3 million people with epilepsy and over 1 million of those whose condition can not be controlled by medicine. If the bill is passed, the extract cannabidiol, CBD for short, can be used in studies approved by the Federal Drug Administration without the classification of it as marijuana. CBD is non-psychoactive and has low THC content, in other words it does not get one “high” and it is taken in liquid form. The bill will allow children suffering from severe seizures to be treated by the FDA in their trials. Furthermore, the use of the oil can be used if a state research hospital recommends it.
There have been stories that have proven CBD as being effective, including Charlotte in Colorado, the 5-year-old daughter of Paige Figi. Charlotte was diagnosed with Dravet Syndrome, a rare form of childhood epilepsy which led to 300 seizures weekly. After taking CBD twice a day with her food, the seizures began to nearly stop. Figi posted her and her daughter’s story on-line which has become a phenomenon.
The passing of the bill legalizing marijuana oil in Kentucky is part of a larger movement. A story in Wisconsin on March 3 looked at what is titled the “mommy lobby,” mothers of children with severe forms of epilepsy who have been fighting to legalize the drug as medical treatment. This is all a dramatic shift from 30 to 40 years ago when mothers fought to criminalize marijuana due to their concern for the lives of their teenage children.
Now, in Wisconsin, a bipartisan bill was passed to allow parents to use the drug on children for medical reasons due to the efforts of Sally Schaeffer. The 39-year-old mother pushed and pleaded for the passing of the bill for her 6-year-old daughter who was suffering from life-threatening and uncontrollable seizures. The mother movement to legalize medical marijuana has spread to other states, including Florida, Utah, New York, North Carolina, and Georgia.
Marijuana is currently classified as a substance in Schedule I, which is a category that contains dangerous illegal substances with no “accepted medical use.” As a result, legal research on marijuana in the U.S. is tough due to the problems of funding and obtaining cannabis. Schedule III is the classification that those in support of medical marijuana are pushing for the drug to be classified as. The category accepts marijuana as being used for medical purposes. The reclassification would allow for federal funding, which would help for better research on the potential benefits of medical marijuana.
One of the bigger groups not in support of medical marijuana are the American Epilepsy Society, a group that supports professionals in the epilepsy field. They note how there is a lack of information on the safety and the efficacy of the drug. Sharon Levy, the chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics committee on substance abuse, echoes the Society’s sentiments stating how she understands that research on treatment for medical marijuana is not moving fast enough for children with forms of severe epilepsy; however, for any medicine there are always long-term effects, that of which should not be ignored. The thought of parents giving dosages without understanding the effects is something that is unfavorable to Levy.
Overall, the growing support from Americans for medical marijuana is increasing rapidly. In Kentucky, the chances of the CBD oil being legalized so that it could be used to treat epilepsy are likely, said Denton. Bill 124 has now passed unto the House of Representatives and a decision should be made soon.
By Kollin Lore