Pennsylvania Representative Introduces Federal Marijuana Bill

Representative Scott Perry, a Republican from York County, Pennsylvania, recently introduced a bill to legalize certain strains of marijuana for therapeutic purposes. The legislation is named after Charlotte Figi, a young Colorado girl whose seizures were reduced from over 300 per week to about three over the course of an eight month period after using CBD, a marijuana-based oil that has been shown to reduce seizures in children who suffer from debilitating seizures.

State legislation has changed in recent years in response to the significant change in the nation’s attitudes about marijuana. Twenty-three states have legalized medical marijuana, but families in other states cannot obtain the oil to treat their children’s seizure disorders unless they establish residency in a state that allows marijuana for medicinal purposes. That is because the federal Controlled Substances Act bans the use, research, and sale of marijuana, the stumbling block that U.S. Representative Scott Perry hopes to remove with the Charlotte’s Web Medical Hemp Act of 2014.

Stories like Charlotte Figi’s abound across the United States, and also serve as inspiration for Representative Perry’s groundbreaking bill. For example, Anna Knecht, from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania suffers from more than 100 seizures per day. Because Pennsylvania has not legalized marijuana for any purpose, her parents, Mark and Deb, made the difficult decision that Deb and Anna would establish residency in Colorado in order to obtain the oil to treat Anna’s disorder while Mark remained at their home in Pennsylvania. Because the Controlled Substances Act prohibits the cannabis oil from being shipped across state lines, many other families are doing the same.

Representative Perry told reporters that “No one should face a choice of having their child suffer or moving to Colorado and splitting up their family . . . We live in America, and if there’s something that would make my child better, and they can’t get it because of the government, that’s not right.”

If the bill passes, it will mark the first time that federal law permits medical marijuana use. It is important to note that the bill would not legalize recreational use of marijuana, but rather would permit marijuana to be used only for the specific purpose of treating seizures in children. Nevertheless, the fate of this bill could set the stage for other changes in the way both federal and state laws deal with marijuana.

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