Medical Marijuana and Epilepsy



Monday, July 28, 2014

The Epilepsy Foundation is pleased to support legislation introduced today that would allow children and individuals with epilepsy and debilitating seizure disorders to access cannabidiol (CBD) oil. Representative Scott Perry (R-PA) has introduced the Charlotte’s Web Medical Hemp Act of 2014 to remove therapeutic hemp from the Controlled Substances Act and expand the availability of this important treatment option.

While research is still needed, there have been many anecdotal reports that CBD oil has proven effective for children with the most severe forms of epilepsy. Parents who have exhausted all other treatment options to help their children are going to great lengths to get access to this treatment, even splitting up families. While one parent stays with the family home and works, the other moves to a state where CBD oil is legal to help their child gain access to this treatment option. Rep. Perry’s bill would help families stay together as policymakers continue to address the remaining challenges to accessing this potential treatment option.

“As a parent of a child with epilepsy, I know how difficult it can be to stand by as your child has a seizure that you are helpless to stop,” said Philip M. Gattone, M.Ed., president & CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation. “That is why the Epilepsy Foundation has supported access to CBD oil – which is showing dramatic results for some patients – and why we applaud Representative Perry for proposing this new bill. We cannot allow access to lifesaving treatment to be determined or limited by zip code.”

“Earlier this year I was approached by three local families whose children suffer from severe epilepsy,” said Rep. Perry. “As a father, I can’t imagine how helpless and crestfallen I’d feel to be essentially out of options, without any significant way to help my child; and these families live with this circumstance every single day. Their heartbreaking situations compelled me to act at the federal level to enable their access to a supplement that literally has changed lives – not only in the form of relief for the individual who suffers from this condition, but subsequently for their families and loved ones as well.”

The Epilepsy Foundation will advocate in support of this bill and other actions that can help people living with seizures, including a call for the end to Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) restrictions that limit clinical trials and research into the connection between medical marijuana and seizures. 

The use of marijuana for children with epilepsy has been in the national spotlight since CNN’s Sanjay Gupta featured in August 2013 the story of Charlotte Figi, a Colorado child with Dravet Syndrome.  Charlotte’s previously intractable seizures declined dramatically after she began taking a medication now known as “Charlotte’s Web” made from marijuana plants.  This case has placed Colorado at the epicenter of this phenomenon, as families from around the United States are moving to Colorado to access Charlotte’s Web for their children who are suffering from uncontrolled seizures. 

In keeping with our mission to provide accurate information about all therapies and treatments, The Epilepsy Foundation of Colorado has compiled a variety of resources, including our own comprehensive report to the community.  This carefully researched report is provided as an educational service to the epilepsy community.  We expect that patients and their families will consider all available therapies through thorough consultation with their own physicians. 

As the leading advocacy organization for people living with epilepsy in Colorado, we join the national Epilepsy Foundation in feeling a sense of urgency to respond to and take action on an issue that has been brought to our attention by the people we serve -- the use of medical marijuana to treat epilepsy.

The Epilepsy Foundation of Colorado supports the rights of patients and families living with seizures and epilepsy to access physician directed care, including medical marijuana. 

The Epilepsy Foundation of Colorado calls for an end to Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) restrictions that limit clinical trials and research into medical marijuana for epilepsy. 

The Epilepsy Foundation of Colorado believes that an end to seizures should not be determined by one’s zip code.

The Epilepsy Foundation of Colorado will be doing the following to support improved access and research into medical marijuana:

  1. Calling on the Drug Enforcement Administration to implement a lesser schedule for marijuana so that it can be more easily accessible for medical research.
  2. Supporting appropriate changes to state laws to increase access to medical marijuana as a treatment option for epilepsy, including pediatric use as supported by a treating physician.
  3. Supporting the inclusion of epilepsy as a condition that uses medical marijuana as a treatment option where it is currently available.
  4. Supporting research on multiple forms of cannabis and seizures.

Read the national Epilepsy Foundation’s statement in its entirety here.

Epilepsy Foundation Calls for Increased Medical Marijuana Access and Research By Philip M. Gattone, President & CEO, Epilepsy Foundation and Warren Lammert, Chair, Epilepsy Foundation Board of...

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