Cannabis plants with less than 0.3 percent THC that will be used to make cannabidiol oil are in a drying warehouse at a Realm of Caring facility near Wray, Colorado on Oct. 8, 2014. (Joe Amon, Denver Post file)

New federal bill would allow medical pot use for epilepsy

The proposed Therapeutic Hemp Medical Access Act would lift federal prohibitions on using marijuana strains that are medically beneficial to prevent certain seizures.

Colorado’s U.S. senators, Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner, are backing federal legislation to allow children with seizures and adults with intractable epilepsy to have access to medical marijuana.

The proposed Therapeutic Hemp Medical Access Act would lift federal prohibitions across the country on using marijuana strains that are medically beneficial to prevent certain seizures.

Gardner, a Republican, and Bennet, a Democrat, announced the bill with Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah and Johnny Isakson of Georgia at the Capitol in Washington on Wednesday.

Because of federal prohibitions, some families who are seeking the help are forced to relocate to such states as Colorado, where they can obtain the medicine, the lawmakers argue.

“Colorado has become a haven for people in need and parents desperate to pursue treatment for their children,” Gardner said in a statement. “Making this medicine available nationwide is the right thing to do and would help families cope with these serious illnesses.”

Bennet said: “No parent wants to see their child suffer. At the very least, we should ease these restrictions to ensure that families have access to the medicine that their kids need.”

The act would apply to such strains as Charlotte’s Web, which was developed for kids and named for Charlotte Figi, an 8-year-old Colorado girl whose seizures from a rare form of epilepsy caused her to stop speaking before her symptoms subsided while using the product.

The bill is supported by the national Epilepsy Foundation and the Coalition for Access Now.

Joey Bunch: 303-954-1174, jbunch@denverpost.com or twitter.com/joeybunch

This story was first published on DenverPost.com