Families inspired Governor’s reversal on medical marijuana


Governor Tom Corbett says he now supports a research-based pilot program that would bring a marijuana extract into the state’s leading children’s hospitals.

His office says he’s still opposing the current medical marijuana bill, Senate Bill 1182. He says his new proposal is “medically responsible” and he wants to help kids with severe seizure disorders. His proposal would allow CBD oil, which comes from marijuana, into hospitals to help young patients.

He’s been meeting with families of children suffering from the disorders. He first met with Anna Knecht and her family back in December, 2013.

“He got right down and talked to her, very personal, he understood how difficult the circumstances are,” says her mom, Deb Knecht, of Hampden Township, Cumberland County.

Anna has Dravet syndrome, a life-threatening seizure disorder. She’s 11 and her seizures are expected to get worse in the next few years. Her mother is preparing to move with her to Colorado, so she can be treated with high-CBD oil.

“I can’t even imagine how painful that would be because once you move out there and try the oil, you can’t leave the state,” says Knecht. “So we would become medical hostages there, we wouldn’t even be able to visit our family and friends here in Pennsylvania.”

Her doctor says it’s the only treatment left for her to try; and it’s had a high response rate in a Stanford University study.

“High CBD oil and possibly THC, that’s Anna’s only remaining shot, and other than that we’re looking at a very high risk of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy,” says Knecht.

The Governor’s office says he will begin drafting legislation for the pilot program, but there is no set timeline.

“The question remains how long will it take to set something up that will work,” says Kencht. “It’s really important to do this right.”