JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A bill that would allow patients with intractable epilepsy to take an oil extracted from hemp plants was approved by a Senate committee today, advancing the bill to the floor where supporters believe passage is likely.
The House has already approved House Bill 2238, sponsored by Rep. Caleb Jones, R-California. The bill would regulate and legalize the use of CBD oil — which is extracted from certain strains of hemp plant — for the treatment of intractable epilepsy. Intractable epilepsy is defined as epilsepy that has not responded to at least three different forms of treatment. CBD oil has been found in states like Colorado to be effective in treating seizures.
Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale, sits on the committee and his son, Stephen, suffers from intractable epilepsy. Sen. Eric Schmitt’s wife, Jamie Schmitt, testified before the committee about the potential benefits of the bill.
“Time is a serious factor here,” Jaime Schmitt said. “If something like this had been available for my son when he was 2, he might have a whole different life, because these seizures affect brain development.”
Jaime Schmitt said her sons suffers from many daily seizures and that her and her family “live in constant fear,” of the episodes, which can be fatal. She also said that she would happily relocate to Colorado if Missouri did not appear poised to pass the bill and her husband was not currently an elected official fighting for the legislation.
Sen. Eric Schmitt has worked closely with Jones and the Departments of Agriculture and Health on the bill. The Department of Agriculture will be tasked with regulating the hemp plants, destroying any that exceed the THC threshold, and extracting the oil. The Department of Health will create registration cards for CBD users and regulate CBD dispensaries
The bill also does not create a for-profit CBD agency, but instead calls on the state to partner with a non-profit group to sell the oil. Under the bill, CBD oil can only be sold in the state at the cost of manufacturing.
Because children are most likely to be diagnosed with intractable epilepsy, most of the witnesses testifying in favor were parents of children suffering from severe seizures. Holli Brown, a former Missouri parent that relocated to Colorado, said the oil has completely turned her daughter’s life around.
“She’s getting her life back,” Brown said. “She’s getting her childhood back. We’ve reduced about 75 percent of her seizures since beginning CBD treatment.”
Brown’s emotional testimony visibly impacted several committee members, who unanimously approved the bill and advanced it to the senate floor. Sen. Eric Schmitt said the bill stood strong chances of passing.
“I’m incredibly proud of my wife,” Sen. Eric Schmitt said. “I’m incredibly proud of her for coming and advocating for Stephen and other children like him, this is a good thing for us to do to provide relief for these kids. I think we’ve laid a lot of groundwork with our colleagues, and I think there’s lots of support for it in the body.”
Collin Reischman was the Managing Editor for The Missouri Times, and a graduate of Webster University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.