Wisconsin lawmakers have legalized the use of a marijuana extract to treat severe seizures in children.
The measure, which was passed by a voice vote in the Assembly and unanimously approved by the state Senate, will allow physicians to administer the oil to children suffering from debilitating forms of epilepsy. The extract, cannabidiol, is nonpsychoactive, but had previously been illegal in the state due to its low THC content. Studies have shown that the oil can help reduce some epilepsy symptoms in children.
"It was very exciting, very emotional," Sally Schaeffer, whose daughter suffers from multiple seizures every night, told the Journal Times. "To know it could possibly save thousands of kids from the effects of seizures and the medications they are currently on, it was a very heartfelt moment."
Also on hand for the bill signing was Amylynne Santiago Volker, whose 9-year-old son Nic has Doose syndrome, a form of epilepsy that causes him to experience an average of 100 seizures a day. Last year, Volker petitioned her assemblyman, Rep. Robb Kahl (D-Monona), to draft the bill, hoping to ease Nic's symptoms.
"I'm just so overwhelmed and overjoyed and so grateful that we have a renewed hope for our kids and our families," she said.
Although cannabidiol is illegal at the federal level, several states have moved to make the extract available for children. Lawmakers in Alabama recently passed a measure legalizing the oil, and a slew of states hope to do the same in coming months.
In signing the measure, Walker stressed that the bill wasn't analogous to full marijuana legalization.
"It's very controlled, from the examining board and oversight by pharmacists and physicians and I think that’s important moving forward,” he said. “This is not in any way what we see with other laws across the country."