Pubdate: Mon, 06 Jul 2015
Source: Washington Times (DC)
Copyright: 2015 The Washington Times, LLC.
Author: Orrin G. Hatch
Note: Orrin G. Hatch is a U.S. senator representing Utah.
Note: This OPED appeared in this Weekend edition as well as the daily 
edition on 29 June


A Medical Extract Offers Relief for Epileptic Children

Imagine the following scenario: You have a son or daughter who 
suffers from epilepsy. Seizures wrack your child's body every day. 
Some days, he or she endures a dozen or more seizures. The condition 
prevents your child from going to school, from eating normally, from 
having friends. It also exacts a toll on you and your family. You 
cannot leave your child alone for any extended period of time, and 
certain activities, such as sports games, road trips or visits to the 
movie theater, are off limits.

You've tried dozens of treatments for your child's condition, but 
none has shown any promise. You've spent thousands of dollars on 
doctors and experts, trying to find some way to reduce the seizures, 
but to no avail. Each new medication brings with it a host of side 
effects, and with each additional drug you try, the odds of your 
child responding positively decrease.

Then, one day, you hear about a new therapy that has shown remarkable 
success in treating children just like yours - children with 
intractable epilepsy. But there's a problem: The therapy is made from 
a strain of the cannabis plant. The therapy doesn't produce any sort 
of "high." In fact, it's made from a strain of cannabis that's so low 
in THC - the active ingredient in marijuana - that it has no 
psychotropic effect even when ingested in large quantities.

But because the therapy comes from the cannabis plant, it's 
classified as marijuana under federal law and is therefore illegal.

As a devoted, loving parent, you're faced with an impossible dilemma. 
Do you break the law to obtain a therapy that could cure or at the 
very least substantially reduce your child's devastating seizures? Or 
do you allow your child to continue to suffer? Remember, the therapy 
produces no high, and it carries none of the dangerous side effects 
of traditional marijuana. It simply comes from the same source.

This hypothetical scenario is a reality for tens of thousands of parents.

The therapy is called cannabidiol oil, or CBD for short. It's 
administered by placing a small amount under the tongue, and has been 
shown to reduce seizures by more than 90 percent in children with 
intractable epilepsy. It is not addictive.

But because it's made from the cannabis plant, CBD is illegal under 
federal law. To solve this problem, I've recently sponsored 
bipartisan legislation with Sens. Cory Gardner, Colorado Republican, 
Ron Wyden, Oregon Democrat, and others to exempt CBD from the 
definition of "marijuana" under federal law.

Our bill, S. 1333, will allow parents to obtain a life-changing 
therapy for their children without threat of federal prosecution. 
It's colloquially known as the Charlotte's Web Act, after Charlotte 
Figi, an eightyear-old girl who has seen extraordinary improvements 
from taking CBD. Prior to beginning treatment with CBD, Charlotte 
suffered as many as 300 grand mal seizures per week - seizures so 
violent that her parents put a do not resuscitate order in her 
medical records. After Charlotte started taking CBD, however, her 
seizures dropped dramatically. She now suffers, on average, less than 
three seizures per month and is able to engage in normal childhood 
activities. "Dateline NBC" and National Geographic recently 
highlighted the medical benefits of CBD for children with severe epilepsy.

CBD is not medical marijuana. It cannot be used to get high. Its only 
use is for epilepsy and other medical conditions.

Nor is it a camel's nose in the tent for advocates of full marijuana 
legalization. Fifteen states have now legalized CBD. These include 
some of the most rock-ribbed conservative states in the country, such 
as Alabama, South Carolina and Texas. In fact, my home state of Utah 
- - certainly no redoubt of hippie liberalism - was the very first 
state to legalize CBD.

Throughout my entire Senate career, I've taken a strong stand against 
illegal drugs. The proliferation of cocaine, meth and other 
addictive, mind-altering substances has had a devastating effect on 
homes and communities.

CBD is not like any of those substances. It is not addictive. To the 
contrary, it has shown promise in treating addiction. Rather than 
harming families, it can help make their lives better.

I continue to oppose marijuana and efforts to legalize its use. I 
remain unconvinced by claims that it is safe and that the side 
effects it causes are no big deal. Stories of children being rushed 
to the hospital for accidentally consuming marijuana edibles belie 
the notion that marijuana is a safe drug. In fact, I am currently 
working on legislation to help protect children from the dangers of 
edible marijuana products.

But I also believe that when a drug is safe and can improve people's 
lives, Congress should not stand in the way. That CBD is derived from 
the cannabis plant does not mean we should be scared to have anything 
to do with it. Legalizing CBD is a compassionate, common-sense move 
that will bring relief to thousands of suffering children. I am glad 
to stand with my colleagues in supporting the Charlotte's Web Act and 
look forward to helping it move through Congress and to the president's desk.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom