Pubdate: Sat, 19 Mar 2016
Source: Pottstown Mercury (PA)
Copyright: 2016 The Mercury, a Journal Register Property
Author: Carl Rotenberg


WORCESTER - The passage of a medical marijuana bill this week by the 
state House has given hope to a Worcester mother who treats her 
12-year-old son for daily seizures.

"Ryan was 9 months old when he was diagnosed with infantile spasms. 
The doctors call it intractable epilepsy now that he is older," said 
Erin McCann. "He has seizures that include head drops of 20 to 40 
times over 15 minutes. He has two (seizure) clusters a day from this 

McCann said Ryan is treated with an anti-seizure medication but it is 
not effective.

"He still has the seizures. We're hoping to find the right 
combination that will stop the seizures," she said. "We have been 
through 13 drugs and none of them have been effective."

Ryan, who just turned 12 on Wednesday, attends a special education 
class daily, his mother said.

"He has had seizures in the classroom," she said. "He gets confused 
after he has had a cluster of seizures."

Two years ago McCann got state Rep. Mike Vereb, R-150th Dist., 
involved in fighting for the medical marijuana bill and Vereb held a 
town hall meeting in Lower Providence to explore the ramifications of the bill.

"I heard from families in my district and across the state who will 
benefit from this bill two years ago when I had the town hall 
meeting," Vereb said. "I knew then and there we were missing an 
opportunity to help people who are suffering."

The House bill passed Wednesday in a 149-43 vote will set standards 
for growers, dispensaries and physicians.

Patients could take the drug in pill, oil or liquid form, but would 
not be able to obtain marijuana they could smoke.

The bill would allow people to buy marijuana from a dispensary after 
they have been certified by a medical practitioner to have one of the 
17 enumerated conditions.

Those conditions include cancer, epilepsy, autism, Parkinson's 
disease, posttraumatic stress disorder, sickle cell anemia, multiple 
sclerosis, AIDS, glaucoma and chronic or intractable pain.

A similar bill was passed by the Senate last year and lawmakers will 
have to reconcile differences between the two versions before it is 
sent to Gov. Tom Wolf for his signature. He has said he will sign the 
legislation into law.

State Sen. Daylin Leach, D-17th Dist., a co-sponsor of SB3, recalled 
the Senate bill passed on May 12, 2015 by a vote of 40-7with 21 
Republicans and 19 Democrats voting for the bill.

"Twenty-three states have legalized medical cannabis in the United 
States. When the Senate passed Senate Bill 3 last year, national 
experts agreed that it would be the best medical cannabis protocol in 
the country," Leach said. "I intend to sit down with Senator Folmer 
and the advocates to review the House's changes to our bill while 
keeping in mind our goal from the beginning of this process: to 
provide medicine to as many patients as possible, as soon as possible."

Under the proposal, the state would license up to 25 growers and 
processors, and as many as 50 dispensaries, which could each operate 
three locations.

Before the House vote was taken, Vereb argued for approval.

"I urge a 'yes' vote, Mr. Speaker, as a former law enforcement 
officer, as a former narcotics officer, as a parent and as a relative 
of a nephew tragically going through an opiate addiction that needs 
to be fixed," Vereb said.

McCann, a resident of Worcester for 13 years, has been a member of 
the Campaign for Compassion, a group of about 15 mothers with 
children with epilepsy.

"We're hoping it gets to the governor's desk next week," McCann said. 
"We hope it will allow some (legal) protections so people are able to 
access it before the program will get up and running. It might take 
two years before the program begins."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom