KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Missouri legislature passed a bill Thursday to legalize hemp or cannabis oil to help kids suffering from epilepsy. The oil, derived from the cannabis plant, is bred to be high in cannabidiol or CBD and low in THC or Tetrahydrocannabinol.
THC is the chemical that produces the psychoactive high. Doctors say CBD is known to have a calming effect on the brain and the oil has been known to dramatically reduce seizures for kids with epilepsy.
The move by the Missouri legislature gave many local families hope. Families such as Bridgit Patterson and her son Colby of Liberty, Mo., started plans to move west to Colorado where more than 100 children with epilepsy are using hemp oil called Charlotte’s Web for treatment. They put their name on a waiting list to get Charlotte’s Web through the Realm of Caring non-profit in Colorado.
"We were just kind of waiting to see what was going to happen with the Missouri legislature before we moved forward to Colorado," Bridgit said.
Her son Colby has intractable epilepsy and suffers from at least 20 seizures per day, some very severe.
"He'll start convulsing, he'll foam at the mouth and he’ll make horrible guttural sounds. It's just awful,” she said.
Bridgit hopes hemp oil will be the solution for her son’s epilepsy.
"I want to get normal and be a normal kid. I want to play football and play sport with my friends. I don’t want to move to Colorado,” Colby said.
The CBD oil moved to Governor Jay Nixon’s desk Thursday after it passed unanimously in the senate and 130 to 12 in the House.
The bill would apply only to people with epilepsy who have not responded to at least three other treatments. It would also regulate the use and growing of the cannabis plants for research and medical purposes.
The state Department of Health would issue cards to patients certified by a neurologist who could obtain and possess oil extracts with CBD.
If passed, this could keep families like the Pattersons from packing up their lives and pushing for change beyond Missouri.
"We want to have that freedom to be able to go across state lines and go on family vacations. We want other families in different states to have that opportunity as well," Colby’s mother said.