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Ala. considers allowing marijuana oil for seizures

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 10, 2014 at 4:41 pm •  Published: March 10, 2014

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A Huntsville legislator is working on changes to a bill that he hopes will persuade the Senate to approve the use of marijuana oil to treat children's seizures.

Republican Sen. Paul Sanford of Huntsville and other advocates plan on Tuesday to unveil the changes, which Sanford said should ease some concerns about the measure he has proposed.

Sanford's bill was on the Senate's work agenda Thursday, but the Senate broke for the weekend without getting to it. Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, said he expects it to be back on the work agenda when the Senate resumes work Tuesday afternoon.

Families with children suffering from frequent seizures due to epilepsy have been visiting the Legislature for two months in an effort to emphasize the potential good marijuana oil can do and to dispel fears about its legalization.

Greg Gibbs of Madison has been pushing his granddaughter's stroller along the halls, introducing 19-month-old Charlotte Dolton to legislators and explaining that she has a form of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome. Because of that, she suffers frequent seizures.

"Each seizure causes brain damage, so we are fighting the clock," he said.

Gibbs' family wants to be able to treat her seizures with a marijuana plant extract called cannabidoil, also known as CBD oil. Sanford's bill and similar legislation offered in the House by Republican Rep. Mike Ball of Madison do not legalize the oil, but give patients and their caretakers a justifiable defense if charged with drug possession. Those in possession of the oil would have to have written proof of a diagnosis such as a seizure disorder.

Gibbs said the evidence he has seen from other states where the oil is available has convinced him it would reduce his granddaughter's seizures significantly and keep her from suffering brain damage.

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