A medical pilot program using cannabidiol, a derivative linked to marijuana, has cleared both Senate and House chambers and is now heading to the Governor’s office.
House Bill 2154, co-authored by State Rep. Jon Echols and Sen. Brian Crain, creates Katie and Cayman’s Law, and would legalize clinical trials using CBD, a non-intoxicating derivative of marijuana. Previous medical studies suggest this product can be used to effectively treat children and adults who suffer from epileptic seizures and help reduce the number and intensity of those seizures.
“We have children who have tried everything else but are not able to control their seizures,” said Crain, R- Tulsa. “This is a unique opportunity for Oklahoma to see what we can do to take advantage of the medicinal benefits of a type of naturally grown product, while at the same time, avoiding the hallucinogenic or narcotic effect of the marijuana plant.”
Last year, Gov. Fallin called on state legislators to collaborate on a bill that would allow medical trials using cannabidiol oil for seizures in young children.
“We heard the Governor’s call for action last year on medical trials using cannabidiol and created Katie and Cayman’s Law in response,” said Crain. “By following her lead, it’s our hope Oklahoma will be able to offer a viable treatment option for children who suffer from disorders that cause seizures.”
This bill would allow the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control to partner with the Commissioner of Health and OU Medical Center to oversee the clinical trials. Crain emphasizes the legislation is not an effort to legalize marijuana and was authored out of concern for children in Oklahoma who suffer from various types of epilepsy.
“Each of us know of someone personally, or through church or a community organization, of families who are going to Colorado or whose children are in need of medication to help with their seizures, either to eliminate them or lessen them,” said Crain. “This bill has provided the legal opportunity to study the medical benefits of cannabidiol, which is the extract of the marijuana plant. We don’t know of any scientific studies that have already been done simply because of the fact that when you’re dealing with an illegal substance, there are very few people capable of meeting the legal requirements.”
Katie and Cayman’s Law would allow children who suffer from epileptic-associated seizures a chance for treatment to alleviate their symptoms.
“Oklahoma has children who are suffering each and every day from different types of epileptic seizures and by signing HB 2154, Gov. Fallin would open the door for the opportunity to experiment with innovative treatments that could help them,” said Echols, R-Oklahoma City. “I’m encouraged by the preliminary research and I’m optimistic the clinical trials would not only be groundbreaking, but ultimately result in a better quality of life for the children who live with epilepsy and debilitating seizures.”
HB 2154 provides for a pilot program with the option for the Legislature to extend the initiative after the two-year trial period expires in December 2017.