Governor Tom Corbett discussed more details in his medical marijuana proposal Friday in Harrisburg. He announced on Thursday that he supports the use of a medical marijuana extract, CBD oil, for research and to treat children with severe epilepsy.
In this case, he says CBD oil would be taken orally for treatment. He is not in favor of legalizing other forms of marijuana.
“I know some people would like to be able to open a door and say we need to do everything, we need to be able to smoke it, this and that. No,” Corbett says. “One step. Let’s see where we’re going .”
The Governor’s office has been talking to leading research hospitals in the state who could host the research-based pilot project. That includes Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital.
Dr. William Trescher, Division Chief of Pediatric Neurology at the hospital, says the research would be valuable. Information about CBD’s benefits to kids is so far mostly anecdotal – and a scientific study is needed to show how much it works as a treatment for epilepsy.
“We’re talking about a severe medical condition and anything we can do to help these children is good as far as I’m concerned,” says Dr. Trescher, who calls the Governor’s proposal a “good sign.”
He says the pilot program would take time to start, if the Governor can get it approved.
“We have to be very selective in terms of how we pick the children who would be part of the research study and it takes a long time,” says Dr. Trescher. “So this is not something that’s going to happen overnight.”
Governor Corbett says he is working to draft legislation now.
“Where are we going to get the oil?” Corbett says in an example of one challenge lawmakers will face. “There are so many different aspects of this, that you can’t just say, OK we’re going to go in and legalize it.”