Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Medical Pot Bill Still Faces Long Odds in Pa

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Medical Pot Bill Still Faces Long Odds in Pa

Article excerpt

It's unlikely that Pennsylvania lawmakers can craft a medical marijuana bill that Gov. Tom Corbett will sign, but there will be a state Senate hearing on the subject Tuesday nonetheless.

Neither Cheech nor Chong is expected to testify. This won't be about recreational marijuana. This will be akin to a legislative hearing in Florida earlier this month, where tearful parents implored that state's leaders to OK a strain of marijuana that can't get anyone high but has been shown to stop epileptic seizures in children.

At least three mothers of children with epilepsy are expected to speak at the Law & Justice Committee hearing on Senate Bill 1182. Also speaking will be the creator of the "Charlotte's Web" strain of cannabis that has helped severely afflicted children in Colorado, plus a couple of research guys with Ph.D.s.

The evidence may be mostly anecdotal, but it's compelling. You'd need a heart of stone not to be moved by the video footage of Charlotte Figi, for whom the wonder drug has been named. The 6-year- old girl went from having about 300 seizures a week -- about one every 15 minutes -- to zero or one a week once she began taking a bit of cannabis-based oil with food, her parents and doctor say.

Other families have similar stories, but Mr. Corbett is openly to the right of Sgt. Joe Friday on any talk of legalizing the demonized weed. Even this "buzz-free" smokeless strain is a no-go until the U.S. Food and Drug Administration holds clinical trials and OKs it, according to his spokesman.

An odd couple of Pennsylvania senators -- conservative Republican Mike Folmer of Lebanon and liberal Democrat Daylin Leach of suburban Philadelphia -- aren't so much trying to blow the governor's mind as pry it open. They're behind the bill that would allow certain uses of marijuana with a physician's approval.

Mr. Folmer, 57 and a grandfather of seven, was a produce broker before he was a senator. He's comfortable with the miracles of horticulture and knows that qualities of one strain of the same plant may be quite different from another. Hence his draw to this product of the Stanley Brothers Realm of Caring Foundation in Colorado; it has almost no tetrahydrocannabinol (the THC that gets one high) but is packed with cannabidiol (the CBD that helps end seizures). …

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