Cannabis oil bill aimed at helping those with epilepsy sent to governor
The House gave final passage Thursday to what it now calls "Charlee's Law," a bill to allow use of nonintoxicating cannabis oil by Utahns with untreatable epilepsy.
HB105 passed on a 58-9 final vote, and was sent to Gov. Gary Herbert for his signature.
Watching it pass was Charlee Nelson of West Jordan, a 6-year-old who might have benefitted from cannabis oil, but is near death. She and her parents, Catrina and Jeff Nelson, were invited onto the House floor and applauded by members.
Rep. Gage Froerer, R-Huntsville, included intent language to dedicate "Charlee's Law" to Charlee's family "and all of the sick Utah children seeking a cure."
The House had only a moment of debate Thursday, just enough to concur with earlier Senate amendments. They include controls to prevent the oil from being abused and to protect families from unsafe products. The oil would have to be certified to contain at least 15 percent cannabidiol (CBD), the chemical believed to have anti-seizure properties, and less than 0.3 percent of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive chemical that gives marijuana users a high.
Passage came after lawmakers were moved by the plight of children who have exhausted all other remedies including prescription drugs that can cause brain damage and death.
"These kids can't wait," said Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, in earlier debate.
HB105 would give families trial access to the oil under the auspices of research. Only those with intractable epilepsy and written permission from a board-certified neurologist could apply to the Utah Department of Health for a waiver giving them permission to import cannabis oil. The bill would expire in two years, allowing lawmakers to test its results.
o Charlee Nelson has a rare disease that causes fatty cellular waste to build up in her brain, eyes and muscles, leading to seizures, mental impairment, blindness, loss of bodily control and eventually death.
Cannabis oil isn't a cure. But it might have kept the brain-damaging seizures at bay, prolonging and improving Charlee's quality of life. Read her story at http://www.sltrib.com.