After all the progress in marijuana reform and research in the last twenty years, it’s scary to see how many people remain uneducated on the subject and hold to old prejudices without question. The fact that South Dakota lawmakers had a chance to save the lives of likely thousands of children (if not more) and chose not to is just downright depressing.
A bill that would have originally proposed a full medical marijuana program was stripped down to the bare minimum – a law that would have allowed patients with epilepsy access to cannabidiol, also known as CBD, the non-psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
CBD has been proven many times over to be an effective and safe alternative treatment for epilepsy and in total 40 states have implemented a law that allows the use of cannabidiol for seizure disorders.
The South Dakota bill made it through the Senate after the many revisions that brought the full medical marijuana program (limited in conditions to things such as cancer and seizure disorders) to an extremely limited one. Once it reached the House of Representatives however, the bill was likely doomed from the start.
So far, the reasons that representatives have given for voting against the bill have been very paranoid and simply uncompassionate if you ask me. Law enforcement opposed the bill and apparently even with a CBD only law people may still abuse the program to get high – off a non-psychoactive cannabinoid mind you.
Other reasoning is simply that cannabis is still illegal under federal law and it should not be considered until the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved it as safe for use. The bill was rejected with a 43-25 vote, witnessed by a South Dakota father who was hoping this bill would allow his family to stay in the state.
“Good old South Dakota, home of the dinosaurs,” he said Thursday.
George Hendrickson’s 3 year old son has Dravet Syndrome – a rare form of epilepsy that does not respond well to traditional treatments. The child endures multiple seizures each and every day – and the only time the family has seen significant improvement was during a stay in Denver using CBD to transition him off of barbiturates he had been taking previously.
“Banking that my son’s got a year, that’s pretty ballsy for them,” Hendrickson said. “Are they waiting for my son to be their martyr? So then they have an excuse to act?”
The family (of five) are and have been considering a move from their current location in Sioux Falls to Colorado, where Eliyah will be able to receive the treatment that he needs and deserves.
On top of not considering the lives of thousands of patients that could be improved by the introduction of CBD, one representative made it clear that for families like the Hendricks moving will be the only option – Rep. Kristin Conzet, R-Rapid City said in the meantime, those with seizure disorders should consider moving to a state that currently allows legal access.
For any family who can afford it, I think this is the best thing they can do to get their loved ones the medicine they need. It’s extremely unfortunate for those who know relocation is not an option – and lawmakers should start thinking about what they would want if it were their son or daughter suffering.