Moul, Colleagues to Seek Public Input on Medical Cannabis Oil
As an elected representative of the citizens of Pennsylvania’s 91st Legislative District, I have never shied away from issues that are difficult or controversial. In fact, I usually take them head-on. When an issue has a direct impact on the quality of life of Pennsylvania citizens or is, quite frankly, a matter of life and death, I arm myself with the information necessary to help me arrive at a sound and reasoned position. Such is the case in the debate over medical cannabis, better known as medical marijuana.

There are plenty of issues at the state and federal level that are polarizing and the subject of significant public debate and this is one. In fact, Pennsylvania is one of more than 15 states with legislation or ballot measures now pending to legalize medical cannabis.

As one who grew up in the 1960s, I am familiar with the decades-old attempt to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. I am light years away from supporting this. However, my own research and, more importantly, enlightening interactions with the families of chronically ill children - has caused me to re-think my position on the use of cannabis oil for medicinal purposes.

As a parent who was within a whisper of losing his own baby girl, I know that any parent facing the loss of a child or whose child is suffering would do anything to get the help they need. Matt and Angie Sharrer of Adams County face that battle every day. Since infancy, the Sharrers’ 9-year-old daughter, Annie, has suffered from a debilitating form of epilepsy that causes convulsions during which she stops breathing for as long as three minutes. The seizures, and resulting oxygen deprivation, which occur 10 to 20 times each day, have left Annie both physically and intellectually challenged.

To make matters even worse, the more than 12 FDA-approved anti-seizure medications prescribed to control Annie’s seizures have not responded well and have produced serious side effects including hallucinations, loss of balance and peripheral vision and impaired motor skills. One medication even landed her in Hershey Medical Center with pancreatitis. Understandably, the Sharrer’s are desperate for any relief for their child. They believe, as I now do, that the answer may lie in the oil of the cannabis plant.

Clearly, the stereotypes, misconceptions and general lack of understanding about this issue are interfering with our ability to effectively treat these children and provide needed relief to their families. When we talk about medical cannabis, we are not talking about “pot” as most would understand it. The substance used to treat extreme seizure disorders in children is ingested, not smoked, and does not cause one to get high. In fact, the medicinal benefits are derived from cannabidiol, or CBD, the non-psychoactive component contained in the oil extracted from a specific strain of the cannabis plant.

The federal government still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug – considered to have a high potential for abuse and with no accepted medical use. Yet, more than 19 states and the District of Columbia have adopted policies providing for its medicinal use. In Pennsylvania, legislation is pending that would permit people diagnosed with debilitating conditions, such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma or a condition producing seizures or severe pain, to purchase medical cannabis from licensed dispensers. The bipartisan measure has the support of a growing number of medical professionals including the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association.

Because we believe it is necessary to separate fact from fiction on this very timely and pressing public health issue, I, along with Rep. Will Tallman (R-193) and state Senators Rich Alloway (R-33) and Mike Folmer (R-48) will hold an informational public meeting to share what we know and to gather public input. The public “listening session” is scheduled for Thursday, May 1, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Southeast Adams Volunteer Emergency Services (S.A.V.E.S) Firehouse on Route 116 in Conewago Township, just west of McSherrystown.

Representative Dan Moul
91st District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Donna Pinkham
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