Rita Wooton holds up her smartphone and plays a video: Her three-year-old son, Eli, clad in a diaper, writhes on a couch, his limbs twitching, his lips a pale shade of blue.
Eli has Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, or LGS, a rare neurological disorder that causes chronic seizures. Her son has suffered thousands of them, causing extensive brain damage, Wooton says.
A bill that would legalize the use of cannabis oil for medicinal purposes cleared on Wednesday a state Senate committee.
Wooton testified before the Senate Health & Welfare Committee in support of a measure filed by Sen. Julie Denton, a Louisville Republican, that would permit state universities to research and ultimately prescribe the use of cannabidiol, or CBD, a compound derived from the cannabis plant that is believed to successfully treat certain neurological disorders.
“Our neurologist told us two weeks ago,” Wooton says. “She said Rita, try this CBD oil and see if it’ll help. I said we can’t because it’s not legal in our state. I said we’re looking at going to Colorado. We shouldn’t have to leave our homes and our families and our jobs to seek treatment for him.”
The bill passed by a 9 to 1 vote.
But some think Denton’s measure, which focuses solely on cannabis oil, doesn’t go far enough. Johnie Collier says his 4-year-old daughter Lola would benefit from medical marijuana because the drug’s active ingredient, THC, would help treat her irritable bowel syndrome.
“CBS oil only will not help my child,” Collier says. “It will not do anything for her condition and will force our family to become yet another medical marijuana refugee from Kentucky to Colorado. We do not want to leave our family, friends and church and support system, but our daughter deserves the ability to live a normal life.”
The bill now heads to the Senate, where Denton says it could come up for a vote sometime next week.