I-Team

Lawmakers hear testimony on cannabis for sick children

CREATED Feb. 12, 2014

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MADISON - Families who filled a small Capitol hearing room believe medical marijuana could improve and possibly save their children's lives.

"I have never smoked marijuana," said Sally Schaeffer from Burlington.  "I've never done anything.  So, this was a step for me to learn what could help my daughter."
 
TODAY'S TMJ4 introduced you to Sally and her six-year-old daughter, Lydia.  Lydia was diagnosed with a rare chromosome and seizure disorder when she was just a baby.
 
The Schaeffers believe a special form of cannabis would make a huge difference in stopping the seizures.
 
"If it was your child and you didn't have options, what would you do?  I ask that you please don't take my sunshine away," Schaeffer told the committee.
 
These Wisconsin families got a boost from Colorado mom and advocate Paige Figi.  She testified at the hearing.  The strain of cannabis that treats epilepsy called 'Charlotte's Web' is named for her daughter.
 
"This plant we are talking about here, this oil, is not smokeable and it has no recreational potential," Figi said.
 
Jesse Stanley and his brothers developed this special breed for epilepsy sufferers at their Colorado growing operation.  He also traveled to Wisconsin to support the measure.
 
"It is low in THC, which is the ingredient in cannabis that gets you high," Stanley told TODAY'S TMJ4 reporter Tom Murray.  "It is very high in cannabidiols.  CBD is known to be neuroprotectant."
 
Support is mounting from lawmakers on both sides.
 
"This is a very targeted bill for CBD oil and children with seizure disorders," said Rep. Scott Krug (R-Nekoosa).  "We're not going to entertain discussion on overall benefits of medical marijuana."
 
"For those who think it doesn't go far enough, it's a baby step," said Rep. Robb Kahl (D-Monona).  "If you're talking about your own children, it's an important baby step."
 
Opponents, who have not been vocal, argue that Wisconsin should wait for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve the treatment.  Parents who attended Wednesday's hearing contend their children may not survive the wait.