As views shift on cannabis as medicine, Ky. lawmakers urge parents to break the law until it's changed

02/26/2014 11:46 AM

After hearing some of the most emotional testimony of the 2014 legislative session, a panel of lawmakers told parents to break current law to treat certain types of epilepsy with cannabis oil until a bill legalizing it is passed.

In a rare move, Sen. Julie Denton, R-Louisville, and Sen. Julian Carroll, D-Frankfort, told Rita Wooton, whose son Eli was born with a rare seizure-causing disorder, to travel out of the state and bring back a type of cannabis oil to treat her son’s life-threatening condition.

Carroll told Wooton that if she gets into trouble that he is an attorney and would help her.

Twenty states have legalized some type of medical marijuana. Kentucky is not one of them. However, Senate Bill 124 would allow the use of cannabidiol in the state.

Cannabidiol is a compound found in cannabis plants and is low in the psychoactive ingredient, THC, that gives marijuana users a high. The bill calls for two research hospitals to make and administer the drug.

Denton, who chairs the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, said the bill doesn’t go as far as she would like for it to, but she said it starts the discussion and gives some relief to those in need.

Sen. Perry Clark, D-Lousiville, who has filed a bill that would legalize medical marijuana, said the cannabidiol is a start but that more is needed. Sen. Reggie Thomas, D-Lexington, echoed Clark’s comments calling for the expanded use of marijuana.

The panel also heard testimony from a father whose toddler has a severe gastrointestinal ailment, which makes her waste burn her skin and upset her stomach.

The father said that he and his wife have tried all conventional and home remedies available in the stat but have had no success. He said research indicates that his daughter could find relief from medical marijuana and advocated for a more comprehensive legalization of the drug for medicinal purposes.

Denton said that the political groundwork exists only to pass a cannibidiol bill this session. But said she hopes the next General Assembly can find the will to help his daughter. Denton is retiring at the end of the session and running for Louisville Metro Council.

Sen. David Givens, R-Greensburg, was the lone no vote on the bill. The legislation now heads to the full Senate.


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