House Holds Hearings to Change State Medical Marijuana Law

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"It helped me save my life," said 15-year-old Cooper Brown, talking about medical marijuana treatment that has helped him live a normal life despite a rare disease that causes seizures.

Cooper was one of dozens of people who attended Thursday's house Judiciary Committee hearing on proposed medical marijuana legislation.

"It helped me stop my seizure," described Cooper.

He and many others want the House committee to approve the bills that would allow them to take the medicine they need.

"It helped me bring my life back," said Cooper.

Cooper's mom, Rebecca Brown said he suffered from seizures day and night. They tried 26 different drugs before turning to cannabis oil, which finally worked.

"Now he can go out. He can live. He can swim, he can play and he can hang out with his friends. All that was stolen from him before cannabis," said Rebecca Brown, who has founded Pediatric Cannabis Therapy, a support group for mothers like herself.

None of the testimony given Thursday was negative.

"We heard some compelling testimony today about how [this legislation] is so desperately needed," said Representative Kevin Cotter, a republican from Mount Pleasant who Chairs the Judiciary Committee. "We had three rooms of people who wanted to speak on this so it is an issue of great interest, and so we want to allow the opportunity for more people to be heard."

The committee took up three bills, House bill 4271, sponsored by Representatives Callton, HB 5104 sponsored by Rep. Kowall, and Senate Bill 660 sponsored by Sen. Kahn.

The bills each relate to medical marijuana but are separate and different in nature.

One would create medical marijuana dispensaries with local control.

The second would provide for medibles--allow for edible marijuana products, topical solutions and other non-smoked marijuana products, like vapors, liquids, gels, capsules or food. Patients say these forms are necessary to treat their illnesses.

"People who are in hospice, people with cancer, HIV, children, they are not able to smoke medical marijuana," Robin Schneider, who works for the National Patients Rights Association.

The third bill, if the federal government down graded marijuana from a schedule one drug to a schedule two drug, would provide for "pharmaceutical-grade cannabis" that was guaranteed free of any pesticides, mold or other safety hazards as well as regulate for the amount of HTC in each dosage.

"This isn't something like you grow in your backyard and you go pick it and just feed it to your kid. This is not that. This is science. This is medicine. This is the future," said Brown.

The committee will next meet Tuesday Dec. 10 at 8:15 in the House Office Building Room 327.

"One sector that we haven't heard yet from is law enforcement. I am sure they will have some input, not only on dispensaries, but also on the issue of edibles, so we will wait to hear if that testimony is shared," said Rep. Cotter. "If it is we will consider it, if it's not we won't."

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