| TALLAHASSEE, Fla.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. Jan 9 Parents of children
suffering from severe epilepsy and other illnesses got a
sympathetic reaction on Thursday from Florida lawmakers
considering the legalization of a new marijuana strain that
shows promising results for controlling seizures.
"We don't have time to wait," said Paige Figi, the mother of
a 7-year-old girl for whom the strain "Charlotte's Web" is
Figi, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, told lawmakers during a
three-hour committee hearing that her daughter could not leave
Colorado, where "Charlotte's Web" is legal, because of her
dependence on the specialized strain, which does not get users
Its use has helped reduce her daughter's seizures to one or
two a month, compared with hundreds previously, she said.
Figi's appearance came as organizers in Florida work to put
a proposed constitutional amendment to allow medical use of
marijuana on state ballots during the November congressional
election, the latest effort in a national campaign to reform
laws banning the drug.
Florida state officials are fighting the ballot initiative,
which is also opposed by Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican
leaders of the state legislature.
The use of "Charlotte's Web" is viewed by Florida lawmakers
as a separate issue from legalizing the medical use of
marijuana, and state legislators have invited parents to testify
about uses for the marijuana strain.
The strain is low in TCH, the pyschoactive compound that
gives users the feeling of being high. The product, which has no
value to traditional marijuana consumers and comes as an oil, is
high in the compound cannabidiol, or CBD, which helps calm
Figi said doctors are advising patients to move to Colorado,
which legalized marijuana for recreational use as of Jan. 1. She
said there are hundreds of families with children suffering from
Davet Syndrome and other forms of seizures that have responded
to marijuana when all else failed.
Coy Browning and his wife, Elizabeth, brought their
21-month-old daughter, Isla Grace, to the hearing. Browning, a
lawyer in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, said he bought a home in
Breckenridge, Colorado, so his daughter can get the drug if
Florida does not legalize the marijuana oil.
"If I have to, once it gets bad enough, I'll have my wife
take her out there," said Browning.
Another parent, Renee Petro of Tampa, said her son, Branden,
developed a condition called FIRES -- fibril infection-related
epilepsy syndrome -- about four years ago.
Now 12, she said, her son "talks about killing himself,
constantly. He says he's tired of being sick, and would rather
'be up there.'"
Petro said she will move to Colorado, if necessary. Several
other parents who testified said they know families whose
children have died from illnesses that might be helped by the
"Charlotte's Web" strain.
A Republican lawmaker, Rep. Charles Van Zant, a Baptist
minister, told the parents he is adamantly opposed to any kind
of legalization of marijuana for non-medical purposes.
But he agreed with their testimony.
"I think this is not substance abuse," said VanZant. "It's
using substances wisely."
(Editing by Kevin Gray and Dan Grebler)