Cannabidiol is being recognized nationwide for its powerful anti-seizure properties. Children who have never been able to live seizure-free are now being given access to a simple and effective natural treatment that seems to be changing many lives. Over the past week, Missouri and Illinois became the latest states to grant medical access to CBD for pediatric epilepsy patients.
Nixon signs hemp oil legislation
On the last possible day to do it, Gov. Jay Nixon today signed Missouri legislation that will allow the use of hemp oil for children with rare forms of epilepsy.
The CBD oil, which is low in the THC compound that gives users a “high,” is becoming a preferred alternative for many parents when several other approved treatments aren’t effective in reducing their children’s seizures.
Though hemp oil has not completed many clinical trials yet, parents nationwide claim the treatment has reduced the occurrence of episodes in their children from hundreds of times a week down to a few times a week.
The legislation went to Nixon’s desk in May, and he had until today to sign it or veto it. If he did nothing, it would still go into law.
One family didn’t believe they could afford to wait. Matt Jessee, a lobbyist with the St. Louis-based law firm Bryan Cave, and his wife Genny moved to Colorado earlier this year when they realized the oil, legal in Colorado, might be the only effective treatment for June, 2, who has intractable epilepsy.
Since moving, Matt Jessee says the oil has reduced June’s seizures by about 50 percent.
He also said his family plans to move back to Missouri once the program is fully implemented.
Only two nonprofit companies will be licensed to grow cannabis plants and sell the oil to registered patients. A neurologist must certify the person already tried at least three other treatments.
Matt Jessee was pleased with Nixon’s decision to sign the bill.
“I hope this helps many children in Missouri who are suffering from intractable epilepsy,” he said.
But at Show-Me Cannabis, an organization for marijuana policy reform in Missouri, board members think it should have happened sooner.
John Payne, executive director and treasurer, said he wished the governor wouldn’t have waited until the last minute to sign the legislation, because it kept the oil from children who need it.
But it made him optimistic “that (Gov. Nixon) will be supportive of future reforms, medical cannabis in particular.”
Nixon’s office declined to comment on the governor’s decision to sign the bill.
Quinn OKs cannabis use for kids with epilepsy
CHICAGO • Minors with epilepsy would be allowed to use medical marijuana under a measure Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed Sunday.
The measure adds seizures to the list of treatable conditions in the state’s medical cannabis program and allows children with seizures from epilepsy to consume oil from the marijuana plant with a parent’s consent. It was sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Iris Martinez of Chicago and Rep. Lou Lang, a Skokie Democrat, and passed the Legislature in the spring.
The original medical marijuana law had allowed only Illinois residents 18 years and older to use the drug in a four-year pilot program.
“This new law will help alleviate the suffering of many adults and children across the state,” Quinn said in a statement. “Epilepsy is a debilitating condition, and this much needed relief will help to reduce some of its symptoms for those who endure seizures.”
Parents of children with epilepsy have said consuming the oil reduces seizures and doesn’t make children feel high. Opponents disagree with further legalizing the drug.
The legislation, which takes effect in January, had been pushed by families in Illinois with children that experience hundreds of seizures a day, said Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago President and CEO Kurt Florian.
The Illinois Department of Public Health will write regulations for the treatment of children with cannabis.
Adult patients, meanwhile, will be able to apply for the required medical cannabis identification cards starting in September. The first products may be sold sometime next year if all goes smoothly, state officials have said.