Pubdate: Fri, 07 Mar 2014
Source: Reporter, The (Lansdale, PA)
Copyright: 2014 The Reporter


SANDY KAERCHER of Chester County has a hope shared by a majority of 
Pennsylvanians. For Kaercher, however, the hope is very personal.

Kaercher wants to see marijuana legalized for medical purposes as a 
last resort to control seizures that disrupt the life of her 
15-year-old daughter, Grace.

Kaercher is part of a group of parents advocating for legalization of 
medical marijuana. The group took their wishes directly to the state 
House of Representatives in January, asking for legislation that 
would give children with seizure disorders hope for some relief.

The concerned parents' message apparently resonates with the majority 
of Pennsylvania citizens, if not with their elected representatives.

The Associated Press reported Monday that a Quinnipiac University 
poll found 85 percent of voters believe adult Pennsylvanians should 
be allowed to use marijuana for medical purposes if their doctor prescribes it.

The poll focused on an issue getting attention in Harrisburg and 
being touted among Democratic candidates looking to unseat Republican 
Gov. Tom Corbett, who opposes legalizing medicinal marijuana.

The current proposal in the state Senate is opposed by the 
Pennsylvania Medical Society but supported by the Pennsylvania State 
Nurses Association.

IN JANUARY testimony before the Senate Law and Justice Committee, 
parents of epileptic children said they had tried everything, and 
marijuana is a last desperate hope.

The parents told the committee that an oil extracted from the 
marijuana plant holds promise as a remedy to ease the seizures their 
children experience, but it is not available to them in Pennsylvania. 
Although she was not among the group who traveled to Harrisburg for 
the hearing, Kaercher shares the group's cause.

Kaercher said she learned of the possible benefits of medical 
marijuana to Grace after seeing a CNN program that featured a couple 
from Colorado who tried medical marijuana on their child with 
epilepsy and succeeded. Some of Grace's doctors have mentioned it as 
an option, Kaercher said.

"My daughter has been on everything. She currently takes five pills 
in the morning, two in the afternoon and 10 at night," Kaercher said.

Nothing has helped. Ironically, the substance that would be 
prescribed isn't even part of the drug that causes a high. The 
extract comes from compounds in the plant and has medicinal benefits 
that can be effective in treating cancer, epilepsy, multiple 
sclerosis, diabetes and other diseases.

Medical marijuana is now legal in 20 states and the District of 
Columbia. Marijuana is legal for recreational use in two states, 
Washington and Colorado.

The Pennsylvania Senate proposal to legalize medical marijuana is 
currently pending in the Law and Justice Committee and is 
co-sponsored by Sen. Mike Folmer, R-48th Dist., and Sen. Daylin 
Leach, D-17th Dist.

In the seven-way Democratic primary race, the proposed legalization 
and taxation of marijuana has become a hot topic after being 
introduced by John Hanger as a proposal to ease prison overcrowding 
and create a new source of revenue. While that all-out pot campaign 
has not gotten a lot of traction, the support for medical use of 
marijuana is gaining support.

FOR GOOD reason: Parents like Sandy Kaercher are weary of watching 
their children suffer when help is available in other states. Most 
Pennsylvanians agree with legislation that could help ease their 
pain. It's time state legislators join them and approve marijuana for 
medical use.
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