Medical Marijuana & Epilepsy
Disclaimer: The landscape of medical marijuana legislation is constantly changing, and we are constantly working to give you the most up-to-date information.
The Use of Cannabis to Treat Children with Epilepsy (Updated February 2016)
The use of extracts from marijuana plants (cannabis) to treat 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 seizures declined dramatically after she began taking a product called “Charlotte’s Web” extracted from cannabis. Charlotte’s Web oil differs in composition from standard marijuana in that it has a high level of cannabidiol (CBD), the component that appears to be frequently effective in controlling seizure activity, and very low levels of THC, the psychoactive component that makes marijuana users high…Continue reading here.
Here you’ll find our official position on medical marijuana and our efforts to help you make informed decisions on potential treatments for epilepsy. Read more.
The story of Charlotte Figi, a Colorado child with Dravet Syndrome, raised national attention on marijuana as a treatment option for children with epilepsy. Charlotte’s previously intractable seizures declined dramatically with the help of Charlotte’s Web, a treatment made from marijuana plants.
Colorado is now at the center of this phenomenon. Families across the country are moving here for access to Charlotte’s Web to help their children who have uncontrolled seizures.
In keeping with our mission to offer accurate information on all potential therapies and treatments, the Epilepsy Foundation of Colorado provides various resources, including our own comprehensive report, to the epilepsy community. We encourage you to consult with physicians when considering any available therapies.
As the leading epilepsy advocacy organization in Colorado, we support the national Epilepsy Foundation’s sense of urgency to respond and take action on this issue – one that’s been brought to our attention by you, the people we serve.
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 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:
- Calling on the Drug Enforcement Administration to implement a lesser schedule for marijuana so that it can be more easily accessible for medical research.
- 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.
- Supporting the inclusion of epilepsy as a condition that uses medical marijuana as a treatment option where it is currently available.
- Supporting research on multiple forms of cannabis and seizures.
Read the national Epilepsy Foundation’s statement in its entirety here.
CARERS Act of 2015
The U.S. House and Senate introduced the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act of 2015. Read more.
Bill number: S. 683 (Senate); H.R. 1538 (House)
Sponsors: Sens. Cory Booker (NJ), Rand Paul (KY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (NY); and Reps. Steve Cohen (TN) and Don Young (AK).
Introduced: March 10, 2015 (Senate); March 23, 2015 (House).
Status: Referred to congressional committee for consideration.
What it does: Lifts federal barriers to cannabis and CBD research, and protects individuals in states with medical cannabis programs.
Why it matters: Individuals who have daily multiple seizures and their care team may consider cannabis as a treatment option when others have failed. People living with uncontrolled seizures have reported beneficial effects from medical cannabis, especially CBD oil.
How to help: Medical cannabis use is legal in 23 states and the District of Columbia. Share your voice to get all 50 states on board. Urge Congress to support the CARERS Act to facilitate cannabis research and help the epilepsy community gain safe, legal access to this treatment option.
Charlotte’s Web Medical Hemp Act of 2014
The Charlotte’s Web Medical Hemp Act of 2014 seeks to remove therapeutic hemp from the Controlled Substances Act. Read more.
Bill number: H.R. 5226
Sponsor: Rep. Scott Perry (PA)
Introduced: July 28, 2014
Status: Died in Congress
What it does: Removes therapeutic hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, expands the availability of this treatment option and makes extracting CBD oil legal at the federal level.
Why it matters: The reality is bleak for those living with uncontrolled seizures, which can lead to disability, injury and even death. There’s no single treatment for epilepsy, and medical cannabis is a treatment option when others have failed.
How to help: Nothing should stop patients from gaining access to this potentially lifesaving treatment. Contact your Congressional leaders and tell them how important it is to reintroduce this act for the future of epilepsy treatment.
Improving Regulatory Transparency for New Medical Therapies Act
The Improving Regulatory Transparency for New Medical Therapies Act was signed into law in November 2015. Read more.
Bill number: H.R. 639
Sponsor: Rep. Joseph Pitts (PA)
Introduced: Feb. 2, 2015
Status: Enacted by President Barack Obama, Nov. 25, 2015 as P.L. 114-89
What it does: Creates consistency in the Drug Enforcement Agency’s review of new Food and Drug Administration-approved medicines.
Why it matters: The voice of the epilepsy community helps to provide access to new therapies, which is invaluable for those living with intractable or uncontrolled seizures – nearly one-third of the population – and the many more who experience adverse effects from medication.