Gardner, Hatch, Johnson Introduce Amendment to Provide Life-Saving Treatment to Epilepsy Patients

Washington, DC – Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO), along with Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ron Johnson (R-WI), introduced an amendment to the Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill that makes it explicit the federal government cannot prevent states from implementing any legislation that makes it lawful to possess, distribute, or use cannabidiol (CBD).

Currently, nearly three million Americans suffer from a form of epilepsy that is characterized by uncontrollable seizures. These seizures, which can cause tremendous strain on families and patients, often result in serious physical problems including brain and other organ damage, decreased IQ, blindness, and even death.

Oils derived from hemp plants low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and high in CBD, such as the commonly-known Charlotte’s Web, have been shown to greatly reduce seizures in affected individuals. These oils have less than 0.3 percent THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, so patients receive the medicinal benefits of CBD without the side-effects of marijuana.

Many states have enacted laws that now allow residents to use compounds from therapeutic hemp as medicine, but the plant and its derivatives remain prohibited by federal law. Gardner’s amendment prevents the federal government from taking any action to stop states from implementing legislation that legalizes CBD.

“The states that allow access to CBD have already recognized the benefits that Congress has not: CBD is a harmless, natural oil that has the potential to save the lives of Americans who suffer from uncontrollable seizures,” said Gardner. “Families should not be faced with the choice of breaking the law or watching their loved ones suffer. My amendment recognizes this and allows states to implement laws that legalize CBD for those suffering, providing much-needed immediate access to life-saving seizure treatment.”

There is evidence that CBD can have a significant positive impact on patients suffering from uncontrollable seizures. Charlotte Figi, a young girl diagnosed with Dravet’s syndrome living in Colorado, was suffering from 1200 grand mal seizures per month before gaining access to CBD-rich therapeutic hemp. Traditional medicines failed her and caused brain damage, but with CBD treatment she now experiences only two per month with no other therapy. 

“Cannabidiol has been shown to dramatically reduce seizures in children with intractable epilepsy. At the same time, it does not produce any sort of ‘high’ because the THC content is so low. This amendment will ensure that federal officials do not block state efforts to allow parents to obtain cannabidiol for their suffering children. It puts federalism—and families—first,” Hatch said.

“I have heard powerful stories from Wisconsin families and others from across the country with young children suffering from devastating seizure disorders who have experienced the positive effects of CBD. This is a compound that has therapeutic uses, and families should have the freedom to gain informed access. This amendment will help ensure that access,” Johnson said.