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North Carolina - Hemp Oil Bill Moves Forward

The General

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After canceling a meeting Tuesday, a North Carolina House committee Wednesday approved legalizing medicinal oil made from a marijuana plant to treat epilepsy. The bill passed by the panel would allow hemp oil extract taken from a marijuana plant to treat intractable epilepsy, a seizure disorder unresponsive to three or more treatment options. It also prohibits doctors from being prosecuted for dispensing the medicine and directs universities to research it. Rep. Pat McElraft, R-Carteret, sponsored the bill. She said it would go through the House Finance Committee Thursday morning and be on the House floor in the afternoon.

Ms. McElraft said she does not favor legalizing marijuana. The specific strain of hemp being considered is high in CBD, which researchers say can be therapeutic. It's low in tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive compound that gets smokers high. The bill, Hope 4 Haley and Friends, is named after Haley Ward of Newport, a 6-year-old who suffers from an intractable seizure disorder. Her mother, Sherena Ward, contacted Ms. McElraft earlier this year and asked her to introduce the bill after discovering the oil was proving effective for the treatment of children in other states where the oil is legal.

Ms. Ward and other parents seeking treatment for their children have been in Raleigh this week lobbying legislators for the bill's passage. In an email statement Wednesday, Ms. Ward said she had met several House members during her visit. "I was given the opportunity to introduce Haley and my family to many legislators and we were blessed to have the chance to speak with so many people regarding the bill," she said. "There were four other families in attendance and our kids were able to meet each other and that was a sweet experience as well."

During the Wednesday committee meeting, Ms. McElraft was in tears as she explained the need for the bill. "Some of [the children] have seizures up to 200, 300 a week, and their parents have to sit there and watch them go through it. It's life-threatening," Ms. McElraft said. The measure, House Bill 1220, has faced opposition from some who say it opens the door to legalizing medical marijuana. But Ms. McElraft said the plant used to make CBD has been genetically engineered to produce a lot of CBD but very little THC, which is the psychotropic substance in marijuana. The plant is so low in THC "that it's not even considered to be marijuana any more" but is referred to as hemp instead, she added.

The measure would allow doctors in North Carolina to give seizure patients a CBD oil called Charlotte's Web. It has shown promise in use in Colorado, where it is legal, cutting seizures in children down to almost nothing. She said families now are forced to travel to Colorado or even move there to receive the treatment. Ms. McElraft said three universities in the state have also been selected by the FDA to run clinical trials of a CBD compound. Steve Carlin, whose 5-year-old daughter, Zora, has Dravet syndrome, a rare, incurable, debilitating epilepsy disorder, was among those testifying during the meeting. "The medicines we're giving her today are ripping her apart," Mr. Carlin said, adding that none of them have worked.

He said he and wife have to sleep in shifts to monitor Zora to make sure she stays alive through her seizures. She has 40 to 60 of them a day and functions at the level of a 2-year-old because of developmental delays caused by the disease. "The CBD oil has an 85 percent chance of turning this around for my daughter," MR. Carlin said. "Please, I am begging you. I am on my knees for thousands of kids and people." No one from the public spoke against the proposal, and no one on the committee did, either. It passed unanimously on a voice vote. It will be heard next in the House Finance Committee.


News Moderator - The General @ 420 MAGAZINE ®
Source: Carolinacoastonline.com
Author: Staff
Contact: Contact Us - Carolina Coast Online: Site
Website: Hemp oil bill moves forward - News-Times: News
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