RACINE COUNTY — A bill aiming to give parents better access to a treatment for seizure disorders is moving forward. A committee vote is set for Wednesday on a measure to fix Lydia’s Law, named after 7-year-old Lydia Schaeffer of Burlington, who died in 2014.
The law legalized Cannabidiol, which has been shown to work for at least some children who suffer from numerous seizures. But families in Wisconsin have been unable to get it due in part to a provision that physicians prescribing CBD obtain an investigational drug permit from the federal Food and Drug Administration.
The bill eliminates the prescription requirement. Sally Schaeffer, Lydia’s mother and a vocal advocate for the bill, says that would make it much easier to get the oil and alleviate families’ concerns.
“I do hope that it passes so that people don’t have to worry about using it and having it in their possession if they want it,” Schaeffer said.
Cannabidiol (CBD) had previously been illegal in Wisconsin because it contained a small amount of THC, though officials say it could never be used as recreational or medicinal marijuana.
A heavy lobbying effort by Schaeffer and others helped legalize Cannabidiol in 2014. Lydia Schaeffer died less than a month after Gov. Scott Walker signed the bill, having never received the treatment.
‘Huge’ Benefit Seen to Cannabidiol
The bill has been opposed by groups including the Wisconsin Medical Society, which has said the measure could have “unintended consequences” by removing physicians from the equation.
The group also testified last year that it raised questions on whether CBD oil products would be labeled accurately and actually be what they claimed.
But State Sen. Van Wanggaard, who authored the measure, said the oil has proven to help people who suffer from seizures. The bill is narrowly written to apply only to the oil and not other derivatives of marijuana, he added.
“If this drug can be utilized as medication… for those victims of the seizure disorders, boy this would be huge,” said Wanggaard, R-Racine.
The measure, if it passes the Senate judiciary committee Wednesday as expected, would then go to the full Senate. It also needs approval from the state Assembly and Gov. Scott Walker.
Federal Changes also Sought
Families would still face issues with federal laws. Because Cannabidiol is treated the same as marijuana, it is illegal to transport across state lines.
While few expect federal authorities to come down on families with the oil, Schaeffer and others are pushing Congress for changes.
Any new law would be too late for Lydia, but Schaeffer hopes others can benefit.
“If there’s one person that says, ‘what you’ve done has been instrumental to saving my loved one’s life or saving my life,’ the hurt of missing Lydia is still there, but at least it makes it less strong knowing there’s others who could benefit,” Schaeffer said.
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