November 24, 2015

CBD bill back before Legislature

By Senator Lena C. Taylor

One year ago, my colleagues and I passed “Lydia’s Law”, which allowed individuals and children suffering from seizures to access Cannabidiol (CBD) Oil with a prescription from their doctor. Lydia Schaeffer was one of the many people this bill aimed to help. She was a young girl trying to live a princess childhood while suffering from regular seizures. Traditional treatment options were just not working and her parents led the charge to change Wisconsin’s law to allow CBD oil treatments. Thanks to their work, we managed to pass a bill.  A few weeks after the bill passed, Lydia died in her sleep. She was seven-years-old.

We did not act fast enough for Lydia, but what about the other kids who are suffering? Sadly, they cannot legally get the medicine they need because a provision in Wisconsin’s law requires a doctor to prescribe the CBD oil. Doctor’s won’t prescribe the oil, however, because CBD is extracted from the hemp plant or marijuana plant, which is currently considered a federal schedule I drug, which is both illegal and not researchable.

Luckily, states have gotten ahead of the federal government. More than half our country has either legalized marijuana, legalized medical marijuana or legalized CBD, one of the many components of marijuana that helps reduce seizures. While Wisconsin is one of the states that allows for CBD-oil for seizure patients, the law is broken.

As a member of the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee, I heard heartbreaking testimony from numerous families with children facing seizure disorders last Tuesday. They all came forth and bravely shared their story on this cold winter day with the hope that Wisconsin would listen and pass Senate Bill 211. Not only did I listen, I am a cosponsor of the bill and will do everything I can to ensure these children with a debilitating illness get the health care their parents are seeking.

CBD oil has helped individuals like Debbie Wilson, a parole and corrections officer from Florida who hoped to one day graduate law school. In July of 1989, Debbie was struck by a pick-up truck after grabbing a bite for lunch. She was left with symptoms of traumatic brain injury that became worse as time passed. In 1991, Debbie was diagnosed with epilepsy and suffered serval grand mal seizures every week. Doctors described her as one of their most severe seizure patients and tried all sorts of pills and painkillers that ultimately had devastating side effects.

Often patients in this situation resort to having a portion of their brain cut out in hopes it will stop the seizures. Debbie was running out of treatment options and out of hope. Things changed in 2010 when Debbie tried a CBD-based treatment and noticed real progress that was absent with traditional treatments. Just a few weeks later, seizures that have been plaguing her for nearly two decades decreased substantially. She was given a new chance to live life to the fullest. All that from an oil extracted from the marijuana plant.

Debbie’s case isn’t unique. Stories like this exist all over the country. For many families, CBD is a miracle medicine that gives their children a real chance at a normal life. The stories were so compelling we passed a law last session. Unfortunately, as federal road blocks remain, we must fix our law to allow Wisconsin families to access this medicine once and for all.

To learn more about Senate Bill 211, visit www.legis.wi.gov to read the bill, or contact me at Sen.Taylor@Legis.WI.Gov or call me at 414-342-7176.