Sydney Michaels is a five-year old who has a severe form of epilepsy.
“A good day for her, she may suffer 100 seizures. She has tried over 13 different drugs, tried and failed all of them. We are just running out of options,” said Sydney’s mom Julie Michaels.
Sydney and her mom Julie attend every hearing they can. They hope they will soon get the chance to try yet another option: medical marijuana. But, if it isn't legalized soon, Julie plans to move to a state where it is legal.
"With the conditions that our children have, we all know that we are living on the edge of a sword and any day we could lose one of our kids," said Julie.
Senators Mike Folmer (R-Dauphin, Lebanon and York Counties) and Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery and Delaware Counties) are sponsoring Senate Bill 3, which would legalize medical marijuana. They say this hearing is all about educating the public and gaining support.
Experts testified about research on the drug, and how it would be regulated and delivered to patients.
"There's sophisticated technology in place that can do seed-to-sale tracking and can also do dispensary tracking and inventory and provide all that to the state," said Nathan Groff, Chief Government Relations Officer with Veritec Solutions, LLC.
The hearing got intense at times between the senators and representatives with the Pennsylvania Medical Society, which doesn't support the bill. Dr. Steven Shapiro testified that more studies need to be done.
"I don't deny that there may be medical benefits but you cannot just walk in and say we're going to do it and it's going to be fine," said Dr. Shapiro.
Josh Stanley also testified. He opened the first medical marijuana clinic in Colorado to treat soldiers with PTSD. Stanley read a letter from a soldier who now uses medical marijuana in which he talked about having night-terrors and waking up and first-thing in the morning vaporizing. Stanley used this to stress the importance of keeping the bill broad and allowing many conditions to be treated, as well as making various forms of the drug available, like vaporization. A similar bill last session limited those things.
“Today’s hearing made it clear that we can create a medical cannabis protocol in the Commonwealth that is among the best in the country. By adding language to Senate Bill 3 to allow doctors to decide what is best for their patients, we will enable thousands of Pennsylvanians to get the medical treatment they need to live healthy, happy, and productive lives. To deny this medicine to people who desperately need it would be cruel and inhumane.
"In the coming weeks I want to work with Senator Folmer and the rest of my Senate colleagues to reach a consensus on the most pressing issues facing our bill. It is imperative that we permit the vaporization of medical cannabis so that cancer patients, veterans suffering from PTSD, and thousands of other people suffering from a whole host of conditions can get immediate, life-saving relief. We also need to consider eliminating the list of qualifying medical conditions so that physicians can decide whether or not their patients should receive medical cannabis. Doctors, not politicians, should decide what is right for patients,” said Senator Leach.
For more information on the written testimony of all of the testifiers who appeared in the State Government Committee hearing, click here: State Government Hearing