Parents of Children With Epilepsy Gear Up for Legislative Push to Allow Marijuana-Derived Treatment
Legislators are opening the door a crack to medical use of marijuana derivatives.
Clinical trials are testing whether hemp oil, also called cannabidiol or CBD, can reduce epileptic seizures in children. A legislative study committee is recommending a bill to allow Indiana doctors and patients to participate.
Parents in other states say the treatment has delivered dramatic results, without the side effects associated with existing drugs. The study panel didn't vote on a proposal from Wadesville Senator Jim Tomes (R) to let doctors prescribe hemp oil without legal repercussions. Oldenburg Senator and study committee chair Jean Leising (R) says there's fierce opposition from prosecutors, who warn legalizing CBD could make it difficult to prosecute other marijuana offenses.
Parents who testified at the study panel's September hearing say they're disappointed. Tomes says epileptic children may not have the time to wait for FDA approval. Leising, a former nurse, says the evidence for the treatment's effectiveness remains anecdotal.
Tomes says a broader legalization of medical marijuana, as Portage Senator Karen Tallian (D) has proposed, would warrant prosecutors' concerns about eliminating any practical barrier to recreational use. But he argues hemp oil, though it comes from the same plant, doesn't have any of the intoxicating properties of marijuana.