By Steve Elliott
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon on Monday signed legislation into law that allows the use of cannabidiol oil extracted from marijuana to treat epileptic seizures that can't be effectively treated by pharmaceuticals.
The legislation was sponsored by state Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-St. Louis County), whose 9-year-old son has epilepsy, reports the Associated Press.
Patients and parents who want to use CBD oil will be required to register with the Missouri Department of Health, and also have a neurologist verify that the patient's epilepsy hasn't responded to at least three other treatments. (Why on earth would they only use the most effective and least toxic option when all the others have been exhausted?)
When asked what all the Missouri families who had moved to Colorado for legal access to CBD oil should do, Gov. Nixon replied, "Move back to Missouri."
When pressed on the question of whether such families would be prosecuted, Gov. Nixon said, "It would be better to talk to the attorney general's office about that. All I know is the measure I signed today will help us move forward to make sure Missouri can provide these therapies to families in need."
The Truth About CBD
By Steve Elliott
The North American trade group Hemp Industries Association has published its position on what it called the misbranding of cannabidiol (CBD) products as "hemp oil." The new statement from HIA explains the difference between hemp oil and CBD extracts in terms of their respective uses and means of production, and emphasizes the need for accurate language in the marketplace so consumers aren't misled.
"Hemp oil is the common term for hempseed oil, obtained by pressing hemp seeds that contain low levels of CBD, typically less than 25 parts per million (ppm)," the position states. "In contrast, CBD extracts are produced either directly from cannabis flowers that are up to 15 percent CBD (150,000 ppm), or indirectly as a co-product of the flowers and leaves that are mixed in with the stalks during hemp stalk processing for fiber."
The Drug Enforcement Administration attempted to ban important and commerce of hempseed and oil food products in 2001, claiming these products were Schedule I controlled substances. However, HIA successfully sued the CDEA, unequivocally establishing hemp seed, oil, and protein as entirely legal to import, process, sell and consume in the United States.
By Steve Elliott
Two months after Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed into a law a measure allowing the use of cannabidiol (CBD) oil, a marijuana derivative used to quell seizures without getting patients high, nobody has yet been able to access the medicine.
The bad situation is due at least in part because of obstacles foolishly written into the legislation at the last minute, reports Dana Ferguson at the Journal Sentinel.
"It is frustrating," said Amylynne Santiago Volker of the roadblocks between her nine-year-old son, Nicholas, and the experimental treatment. "It's there in paper, but we can't access it."
Unfortunately, Wisconsin's "CBD-only" law appears as useless as most of the rest passed recently by state legislatures who want to be seen as "doing something" in the face of overwhelming popular support for medicinal cannabis, without having the courage to pass an actual medical marijuana law which could help actual patients.
Gov. Walker on Friday told reporters he "wasn't sure" if his administration could do anything to free up access to CBD, but if more could be done through state legislation, Walker claimed he was "committed to working with lawmakers" to do so.
Two Northern California medical marijuana dispensaries have announced they will be giving away free high-CBD tincture medication for children suffering from seizure disorders.
In the wake of the recent death of 6-year old Charlee Nelson in Utah after she was denied cannabis extract known to help control seizures caused by a neurological disorder, Dave Spradlin, co-director of Magnolia Wellness in Oakland and River City Phoenix in Sacramento, has announced that he will provide for free the expensive extract to any patients with a similar ailment.
The medicine is a scientifically produced liquid made from marijuana plants and used to treat people with severe seizure disorders. The tincture is rich in a chemical called cannabidiol, or CBD, but low in THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
CBD is a non-psychoactive component of marijuana that is known to possess a wide range of therapeutic benefits. It has proven to be especially effective in the treatment of seizures brought on by neurological conditions such as Batten disease, which was blamed in the death of Charlee Nelson.
“People are really suffering and this product has been known to cut seizures from hundreds a day to just a few a week or none at all,” said Spradlin.
Many in the medical community feel this is an effective alternative to conventional pharmaceuticals and can dramatically improve a patient’s quality of life.
By Steve Elliott
Parents in Pennsylvania who want to treat their children's seizures with a marijuana derivative were hopeful after Governor Tom Corbett announced last month he could support a medical study of cannabidiol (CBD). But the program can't begin until the state's House Republican majority supports the move -- and timid GOP party leaders are opposing it, despite the fact that legislatures in states as conservative as Alabama and Mississippi have approved similar legislation.
A majority of GOP members of the House still oppose such a study, according to a spokesman,and don't support authorizing Gov. Corbett's plan to allow children with intractable seizures who are not helped by standard therapies to have supervised access to cannabidiol (CBD), a component of marijuana that does not produce a high, reports Karen Langley at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The Republican state representatives said they believe the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) -- not the states -- should decide what is medicine, according to spokesman Steve Miskin, putting the lie to GOP claims of supporting "states' rights."
"That is where the majority of members of our caucus stand," claimed the apparently cold-hearted Miskin. "They do not believe the state should approve pot -- marijuana -- of any sort. At this moment there are no plans to move any type of legislation to legalize the use of any derivative of marijuana."
By Steve Elliott
Iowa Governor Terry Branstad said he will sign a bill legalizing the use of cannabidiol oil (CBD oil), a non-psychoactive concentrate derived from marijuana.
Families with kids suffering from epilepsy went to Iowa legislators this year asking for their help, reports KWWL.
At first, Gov. Branstad opposed the plan, claiming he was worried about "unintended consequences" like "drug abuse." The Governor didn't explain how legalizing a substance which doesn't get anyone high would do that.
The Governor claimed he "had empathy" for families who believe CBD helps quell seizures. But he still fretted over signing the bill.
"I think it would be a mistake to look at now expanding it to a whole bunch of other things," Branstad said, reports AP, evidently believing the suffering of epilepsy patients is somehow more deserving of relief than that of patients with other maladies. "I think we need to look at this as a very careful experiment that we and other states like Utah and Alabama are doing and see if it really does have the efficacy that the families hope it has."
The therapeutic potential of medical marijuana and pure cannabidiol (CBD), an active substance in the cannabis plant, for neurologic conditions is being debated in the scientific and medical communities -- as well as in the popular press. A series of articles published in the current issue ofEpilepsia, a journal of the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE), examines the potential use of medical marijuana and CBD in treating severe forms of epilepsy such as Dravet syndrome.
In a case study, Dr. Edward Maa, chief of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Program at Denver Health in Denver, Colorado, details one mother’s experience of providing medical marijuana to her child with Dravet syndrome. The adjunct therapy, with a higher cannabidiol/D9-tetrahydrocannabinol (CBD:THC) ratio in the strain of cannabis, now known as Charlotte's Web, was given in conjunction with the patient’s antiepileptic drug regimen.
The child’s seizure frequency was reduced from 50 convulsions per day to two to three nighttime convulsions per month.
“Colorado is 'ground zero' of the medical marijuana debate,” said Dr. Maa. “As medical professionals it is important that we further the evidence of whether CBD in cannabis is an effective antiepileptic therapy.”
Currently, 21 states and the District of Columbia (DC) have legalized marijuana for medical purposes.
By Steve Elliott
Florida Governor Rick Scott, running for reelection in November, on Thursday said he would sign legislation allowing a non-psychoactive medical marijuana extract low in THC but high in CBD to treat children and other patients suffering from seizures.
Despite his firm opposition to an actual medical marijuana law, Gov. Scott said he would sign the so-called Charlotte's Web bill, which passed the Republican-controlled House with bipartisan support on Thursday, reports Andrew Perez at The Huffington Post.
Charlotte's Web is one of many high-CBD strains of marijuana, but in a development that undoubtedly makes the Stanley Brothers of Colorado very happy (and quite rich), it seems to be the one that gets all the media attention. Ill-informed state lawmakers such as those in Florida who want to appear to care about patients, and of course want to therefore get a lot of votes, know just enough about medical marijuana to have maybe watched Dr. Sanjay Gupta's "Weed" specials, and they learned from it, or from second-hand accounts of the show, that "Charlotte's Web" doesn't get kids stoned and helps quell seizures.
So then they pass restrictive legislation, sometimes even requiring the specific strain, Charlotte's Web, which enriches the Stanley Brothers while leaving out in the cold other high-CBD strains such as Cannatonic and Harlequin.
By Steve Elliott
The Wisconsin Senate is expected to vote Tuesday on a bill which would legalize a marijuana byproduct, cannabidiol oil, that doesn't make users high, but may relive seizure disorders in children.
The CBD oil bill falls well short of legislation to legalize medical marijuana, reports Jason Stein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, legalizing only one cannabinoid from the plant. The Wisconsin Assembly last week approved the CBD bill on a voice vote, sending it to the Senate.
The bill was moved out of the Senate Health Committee on Thursday, where Chairwoman Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa) tried to block it from being voted upon because she opposes the legislation. The proposal was instead placed in a committee where it could be scheduled for a floor vote in the Senate's last session on Tuesday, April 1.
The bill would go to the desk of Republican Gov. Scott Walker if passed by the Senate.
Rep. Robb Kahl (D-Monona) sponsored the CBD oil bill after a constituent, Amylynne Volker, told him about her son, Nic, who has about 100 epileptic seizures per day. "God bless them!" Volker said, when she learned the measure is poised to move forward.
Volker said the good news was a great way to celebrate her birthday on Friday. "It's pretty incredible and awesome," she said. "It's almost the best birthday present I could get." She said she already had a doctor in mind if the bill passes.
By Steve Elliott
Illinois is considering expanding its medical marijuana law to include children suffering from conditions like epilepsy. The Senate Public Health Committee on Tuesday unanimously approved a bill that would legalize such treatment for minors in a 8-0 vote.
"Letters have been sent by so many parents who suffer watching their children have seizures -- and not just one or two seizures: 100, 200, 1,000 seizures a week," said bill sponsor Sen. Iris Martinez (D-Chicago), reports Elise Dismer at the Chicago Sun-Times. "This could be a life-saving solution for children suffering from epilepsy."
Nicole Gross said her 8-year-old son, Chase, lost his ability to speak due to his seizures. "Following his dose of the cannabis oil, we started to see one to two seizures in two minutes, and then two minutes seizure free, five minutes seizure free, then eight ... and when we hit 20, I cried," Gross said, reports Craig Wall at Fox Chicago.
"As a mom, too, it's fun to see his personality, we're seeing more of his personality, we're seeing more of a sense of humor, he wants to tease and play, he likes to make jokes, he likes to hide things from us now and run away, and he knows what he's doing and he thinks it's funny," Nicole said. "And before, we did not really see that."
By Steve Elliott
Until this year, extremely conservative states like Utah and Alabama didn't pass medical marijuana laws. Now both of them have something sort of like one. What changed? The advent of "CBD-only" legislation has changed the landscape for medicinal cannabis advocates, especially in conservative locales where lawmakers normally wouldn't touch marijuana with a 10-foot pole.
Cannabidiol, or CBD as it's more popularly known, is the new darling of lawmakers in conservative states who sense the rising tide of popular support for medical marijuana -- and would love to appear to be "doing something" -- but lack the political courage or will to advocate for an actual medical marijuana law.
CBD is politically safe because, as a non-psychoactive component of cannabis, it doesn't get anyone high, and better yet, it helps to quell seizures of the kind often found in pediatric epilepsy.
By Steve Elliott
The Alabama House early Thursday morning passed Carly's Law, which would authorize a study of marijuana-derived cannabidiol (CBD) oil for the treatment of childhood seizures, on a unanimous 97-90 vote. CBD oil doesn't get users high, but strong anecdotal evidence indicates it is effective in quelling seizures.
SB 74, named Carly's Law after the three-year-old daughter of Dustin and Amy Chandler, authorizes a study of CBD oil through the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), including the limited use of the oil that advocates are hoping to use from a special strain of marijuana grown in Colorado which has given relief to children suffering from seizures when conventional prescription medications haven't helped, reports Martin J. Reed at Al.com.
UAB physicians would authorize certain patients to receive CBD oil under the study.
"When they got to Carly's Law and the Speaker introduced it, [Rep.] Allen Farley [a proponent of the bill] said he was ready to debate it or answer questions," Dustin Chandler said. "They started chanting, 'Vote, vote, vote!'" he said Farley told him. "He didn't even get one question from the floor."
By Steve Elliott
A Georgia Senate committee this week unanimously approved a newly revised bill which would legalize the marijuana derivative CBD oil for treatment of patients with seizure disorders, cancer, and glaucoma.
The Senate Health and Human Services Committee amended House Bill 885 to make it easier for state residents to gain access to cannabidiol oil, a non-psychoactive derivative of cannabis, reports Charles Craig at Online Athens.
The change would grant immunity from prosecution in Georgia for possession of CBD oil legally obtained in another state that permits the use of medical marijuana.
HB 885 was originally introduced by Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon), who championed the bill to help children suffering from severe seizure disorders. CBD has proven effective in quelling the severity, frequency and duration of seizures, according to parents and doctors.
Under the revised Senate committee version of HB 885, patients with seizure disorders, cancer or glaucoma could use CBD oil as soon as they were able to obtain it from outside the state. Patients could also take the oil directly without supervision by a Georgia physician or an academic medical center under the revised version of the bill.
"Cannabis in the Treatment of Epilepsy" comes as demand grows for using the plant to treat intractable seizure disorders
The medical research group American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP) has issued a new scientific review entitled "Cannabis in the Treatment of Epilepsy," which it is offering for free to the public. The review compiles much of the leading and historical research on epilepsy and cannabis (medical marijuana) for use by scientists, physicians, patients, and parents, as well as those producing and manufacturing it for treatment.
This newly compiled scientific information on epilepsy and medical marijuana comes as CNN correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta aired a follow-up documentary to last year's "Weed," both of which feature children whose parents use cannabis to help treat rare and sever forms of epilepsy unresponsive to medication. "Weed 2" highlights the plight of Vivian Wilson, a two-year-old who suffered 75 seizures a day, while Dr. Gupta's first documentary featured Charlotte Figi, a seven-year-old whose use of cannabis reduced her seizures from 300 per week to three or four a month.
"This review of cannabis and epilepsy provides scientific foundation for the claims being made by CNN correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta," said ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. "This material provides us with the tools to increase our knowledge and build on the research that already exists."
By Steve Elliott
Dr. Sanjay Gupta changed the landscape of the medical marijuana debate last year with his groundbreaking CNN documentary, "Weed," which drew attention everywhere from parents to the halls of Congress. At 10 p.m. on Tuesday, March 11, Dr. Gupta returns with a second, hour-long documentary on the health benefits of cannabis.
Dr. Gupta will narrate the show, which will include sick children and their parents struggling for safe access to medical marijuana despite legal barriers caused by state and federal laws. The show will also discuss how cannabis can ease the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, arthritis, cancer, epilepsy and other diseases.
"We think it'll be another big deal across our country, and hopefully even in other parts of the world where they are thinking about changing their laws," said Heidi Parikh of Romulus, Michigan, founder of the Michigan Compassion education groups, reports Bill Laitner at the Detroit Free Press.
"If you want to understand the science, this is something you'll want to watch," Dr. Gupta told the Free Press on Monday. "The drug continues to be unfairly rejected by most of the American medical establishment and by government drug regulators."