Ky. House panel approves cannabis oil for medical use
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- A bill that allows the medical use of cannabis oil has taken a major step toward becoming law.
It had already passed the Senate and today cleared a major House Committee.
But supporters first had to convince lawmakers that they would not be voting to legalize marijuana.
The bill, SB 124, would allow the U of L and UK hospitals to begin treating children suffering from severe seizures with cannabis oil, an extract of hemp and marijuana.
For Rita Wooton, the issue is personal.
"My son has had as many as hundreds of seizures a day," she told members of the House Judiciary Committee.
Wooton says her 4-year-old son, Eli, suffers from severe epileptic seizures. She believes cannabis oil can help. She says she's tried everything else.
"I've got a sackload of Klonopin, ONFI, Ativan, Diastat. None of this stuff is working," she said.
Cannabis oil does not contain THC which causes the marijuana high. But some lawmakers wondered if cannabis oil could open the door to marijuana use.
"How do we as a committee wrap our heads around and our arms around that kind of usage and where that could go?" asked Rep. Reggie Meeks (D-Louisville).
"I've prosecuted DUI homicides where impairment due to marijuana caused the death of someone, and so I have great reluctance in doing that. But this isn't that case," responded Sen. Whitney Westerfield (R-Hopkinsville).
The head of the Kentuckiana Epilepsy Foundation, Debbie McGrath, testified that medical trials in Europe have seen promising results.
"They have had great success with that drug in controlling seizures in children and in adults," she said.
The committee approved the bill unanimously. It was an emotional victory for the bill's supporters.
"It was a longshot just because there's been so much pushback and the perception that this is medical marijuana when it's not," said Sen. Julie Denton (R-Louisville).
"I never thought that this would ever be feasible for any of us; people, parents, moms, dads, adults across this state. But now it is. We're just really, really excited," said Wooton.
The bill is expected to easily pass the full House, and Gov. Steve Beshear's office says he will sign it.
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