State Representative John Rogers says he was inspired by the 10-year-old child of a family he knows personally, to co-author a bill that would legalize the use of a chemical derived from marijuana to treat certain forms of severe epilepsy.
“I don’t think there’s any one of us who wants to witness a child in pain,” Rogers asserted to 10TV at his Columbus office Wednesday afternoon, hours after introducing House Bill 33, which specifically names the chemical, cannabidiol. The measure would allow medicinal use for persons who have “been diagnosed with a seizure disorder”.
A Democrat, Rogers represents Ohio’s 60th District, which includes his home town of Mentor-On-The-Lake. He co-authored the bill with Republican counterpart Wes Retherford of Hamilton County. Rogers cites studies, including one in England, that he says suggest cannabidiol can reduce the severity and the frequency of epilepsy seizures, especially for those suffering severe forms such as Dravet Syndrome.
“The body of the child [reacts] in such a way as that the seizure basically stops, and then oftentimes the seizure activity – the time between seizures is extended, so instead of having a hundred seizures in a day, you may have one seizure a week.”
As he understands it, Rogers says cannabidiol oil is generally applied topically to the inside of a patient’s mouth.
“You’re just placing it on the inside of the mouth, right on the lip,” he explains.
And, he points out, the medicine is non-psychoactive, meaning it doesn’t cause any of the mind-altering effects aligned with recreational marijuana use.
“It does not have a high, or there is not a high associated with this chemical compound,” Rogers says. “All of the medicines that I’m aware of come from a chemical compound, okay? They’re chemistry.”
But at least one proponent of marijuana legalization calls the bill a small step rather than a giant leap. That virtual absence of tetrahydrocannabinol – T.H.C. for short, the agent that makes marijuana users “high” – is actually a medicinal drawback, according to Carlis McDerment, Vice-President of legalized medicinal marijuana advocacy organization the Ohio Rights Group.
“You need to keep the whole, the whole plant together, everything there” McDerment contends, claiming that removing T.H.C. compromises marijuana’s beneficial potency, “not just extracts from the plant, because it just doesn’t work as well.”
It’s a stance McDerment maintains even when reminded that many epilepsy patients are children, saying that as long as dosage is carefully monitored, the psychoactive effects can wear off after about a month’s use, while the benefits continue.
“The smaller dose you take, you build up a tolerance to the T.H.C. Your body reacts in a different way to it, and you don’t get high after a while.”
Whatever the bill’s effect might be, Representative Rogers surmises that it will be some time before it becomes law, if it becomes law. He says the measure would not be a step toward legalized recreational use in Ohio.
“That’s not the intent of this legislation, that’s not my intent. My intent is to try to help a group of people need help.”