When it comes to medical marijuana there is still a lot of controversy on allowing our children to use it – but a lot of information has come forward in recent years that is proving that children are just as likely to benefit from medical marijuana, especially those suffering from epilepsy and related seizure conditions.
Most states allow children to use medical marijuana with parental permission and physician recommendation, but when Connecticut legalized medical marijuana that was one thing they chose to leave out. Currently, the program is only open to those who are 18 and older and who are affected by one of the qualifying conditions – but a piece of legislation was introduced last year which would open the program up to minors suffering from debilitating conditions.
After a year of sitting around, the bill was finally approved with a 23-11 vote in the Senate and making its way through the House with 129-13 voting to pass the bill. Just a few days ago now Governor Dannel P. Mallory signed the legislation expanding the program to minors and the bill will go into effect on October 1st, 2016. This bill has been widely supported as parents begged for them to pass the bill at a public hearing in March.
The bill will allow minors to receive medical marijuana treatment with the permission of their parents as well as the recommendation of two physicians who agree that the benefits outweigh potential risks and agree on the diagnosis of a debilitating condition. While adults can be recommended medical marijuana for a number of conditions, children will only have access with a specific diagnosis of one (or more) of five conditions.
Those conditions include terminal illness requiring end-of-life care, cystic fibrosis, cerebral palsy, severe epilepsy or uncontrolled intractable seizure disorder, or an irreversible spinal cord injury with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity. When it comes to the type of products that will be available, they will not have access to any inhaled form (smoked or vaporized) of cannabis.
Many families expected relief when the medical marijuana laws were passed, only to find out that minors were not eligible for the program. This forced many families who had already tried all of the more commonly accepted treatments for their children to move out of state. Sadly, this is not entirely uncommon as parents are being forced to choose between breaking the law to do what is right for their child or obeying the law and watching their child suffer.
This expansion is definitely welcomed and much needed in the state of Connecticut and at least 100 children should be finding relief as soon as this law goes into effect. Parents who have been waiting on this sort of change are likely already talking with their physicians about the steps they need to take to register their child as a patient in the program in hopes that they can live a more comfortable life.