Epilepsy

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A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine finds children with severe epilepsy who suffer from seizures are being helped by a drug derived from marijuana. Findings stemming from the research trial could have impacts on Idaho policy.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Last year Idaho governor Butch Otter vetoed a bill that would have made it legal for children with severe epilepsy to use a treatment that comes from marijuana.

Aaron Kunz / Idaho Public Television

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has vetoed a bill that would have legalized a marijuana extract for patients with severe forms of epilepsy.

In his veto letter, Otter said his administration has strongly opposed the legislation because "there were too many questions and problems and too few answers and solutions in this bill to let it become law."

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho lawmakers Monday passed a bill to allow parents to treat epileptic children with an oil extracted from cannabis. Idaho’s House approved the bill 39-30 after more than an hour of intense debate.

Opponents, such as Rep. Luke Malek, R- Coeur d’Alene, argued the bill legalizes marijuana because the oil has small amounts of the chemical that makes pot users high.

“This bill changes the approach Idaho has taken to drug policy and does so based on anecdote not scientific evidence,” Malek said.

An Idaho House panel has killed a proposal to legalize oil extracted from cannabis plants used to treat children with severe forms epilepsy.

The bill failed to garner enough votes to advance on Monday.

The quick vote came after the House State Affairs panel listened to nearly four hours of testimony, ranging from tearful parents pleading for the bill's passage to law enforcement representatives wary of the plan's unintended consequences.

The bill was named after 10-year-old Alexis Carey, who has a rare but intractable form of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome.

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Idaho’s Senate Tuesday will consider two bills about cannabis-based epilepsy treatments.

Clare Carey has been asking lawmakers to allow access to a certain kind of hemp oil for nearly two years. One of the two bills in the Senate is called Alexis’ Law after Carey’s daughter, who suffers from debilitating, life threatening epilepsy.

legislature.idaho.gov

This story was updated with content from the Associated Press at 11:45 A.M.

Idaho parents of epileptic children appear to be slowly swaying the Idaho Legislature to allow the use of cannabis oil to treat seizure disorders.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho lawmakers will introduce a bill Wednesday that will allow people to use some oils extracted from cannabis plants. Idaho currently does not allow any form of medical marijuana.  But other states without medical pot have passed exemptions similar to this new bill.

Its aim is to allow people with epilepsy to use the extract. Certain strains of cannabis have shown great promise in reducing seizures in children with severe epilepsy.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Legalizing marijuana in Idaho has been a complete no-go, even as its neighbors have started licensing pot dispensaries and retail shops.

But now Republican leaders in Idaho say they're willing to consider a very narrow version of a medical marijuana law.

Idaho Speaker of the House Scott Bedke said this year lawmakers may explore legalizing a cannabis extract. It’s been found to help some patients with a rare and severe form of epilepsy.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

There’s a bill in Congress that would legalize a marijuana extract to treat children with severe epilepsy. We’ve reported previously on plans to introduce a similar bill in Idaho’s Legislature.

Utah will begin issuing registration cards Tuesday for its limited medical marijuana program targeting adults and children with severe epilepsy.

A new state law doesn't allow medical marijuana production or distribution but permits those meeting certain requirements to possess a marijuana extract oil.

The oil is believed to help with severe seizures.

The extract's Colorado-based producer has a long waiting list, so many families are expected to apply for their Utah registration cards later this year when there will be more supply of the oil.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Nine-year-old Alexis Carey has a rare form of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome. She started having seizures when she was a couple months old. Her mom Clare says Alexis is a happy kid, but she can't speak or potty train.

“You have seizures that go on for over an hour and nothing stops them,” Clare says.

“It’s so hard to helplessly watch your kid seizing for an hour,” Alexis’ dad Michael Carey says. “You can’t describe how painful it is.”