Angry parents of epileptic children vowed to stage a sit-in in the offices of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett until he meets with them to discuss the marijuana extract that could stop their children’s seizures.
At a news conference April 28, family members and state Sen. Daylin Leach, a Democrat, said they would occupy Corbett’s offices in the state capitol unless he agrees by May 2 to meet with them.
Corbett, a Republican, opposes medical marijuana and says the federal government should be in charge of loosening restrictions. Weed is entirely illegal under federal law, though many states have changed their own laws in recent years to allow for medical and recreational pot.
Leach authored a bill in the Pennsylvania Senate that would allow doctors to prescribe a cannabis extract that treats severe seizure disorders, especially in children. The oil has made national headlines since last year, as parent groups have formed across the country to lobby state lawmakers for access to it.
It’s a highly limited form of medical marijuana and presents an easy way out for states that aren’t yet brave enough to adopt real MMJ. The extract is high in a cannabinoid known as CBD, which is thought to quiet seizure activity. It’s low in THC, the cannabinoid that gets users high – and helps with other medical conditions.
It’s the lack of THC that really sells the idea to lawmakers in socially conservative states. No one gets high, no one has fun, the drug isn’t a “drug.” The fact that it helps children is of secondary importance to the fact that it isn’t “naughty” anymore.
Several states have legalized CBD oil, and it’s under consideration in a few other right-leaning places. But in Pennsylvania, under Corbett’s administration, even that isn’t enough. The governor has made it clear he won’t let medical marijuana get past him.
Unfortunately for patients, both houses of the legislature are also controlled by Republicans antagonistic to any kind of cannabis reform. A spokesman for the House majority leadership said they, too, favored leaving reform to the feds.
That doesn’t help Tom Nadzam, 68, or his granddaughter Lorelei, 6. She suffers from a seizure disorder and needs the CBD extract.
“From one grandparent to another, don’t let me lose my Lorelei,” Nadzam said to Corbett at the press conference.
For now, Leach’s bill is bottled up in a Senate committee, unlikely to become law anytime soon without a change in policy from the top.
Medical marijuana is a very popular idea in Pennsylvania: About 85 percent think doctors should be able to prescribe the drug to adults, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released earlier this year. Family members pointed to these results as proof that the state is ready.
“We are the 85 percent and we are not going away,” said Christine Brann, 41.