EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

December 30, 2013

Editorial: A look at what others are saying

(Continued)

-- Providence Journal

Seizures occur when large numbers of the cells that transmit information to muscles fire uncontrollably, causing everything from staring spells and twitches to falling, loss of consciousness and full-body convulsions. Anywhere from 10 percent to 30 percent of children with a seizure disorder -- also known as epilepsy -- experience seizures that can’t be relieved by pharmaceutical medications.

Now these young patients’ parents think they’ve found something that can repress the seizures. The problem is that it’s illegal under federal law. The federal prohibition against marijuana poses major roadblocks to families and shows the need for federal action to ease these draconian limits.

The strain of marijuana that’s been in the spotlight is called “Charlotte’s Web,” named for the child who was having 300 grand mal seizures a week but is 99 percent seizure-free after two years of treatment with the substance.

Charlotte’s Web is low in tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC -- which produces the classic “high” -- and rich in cannabidiol, or CBD -- which is believed to be medicinal. (In children, the drug is taken in a liquid form that can be put into food or under the tongue.)

It’s good news that the Food and Drug Administration has approved the first formal U.S. trials of cannabidiol, in the form of a high-CBD medication for severe epilepsy in children. To encourage more such study, some want to remove marijuana from the list of federally controlled substances altogether (a bill to do that went nowhere in the U.S. House last session). Others want to recategorize it as a Schedule II drug, like certain opioids and stimulants, with both a risk of abuse and accepted medical uses.

Right now, reclassifying the plant, we believe, is the least the U.S. government can do to facilitate the kind of rigorous evaluation that’s needed.

-- Portland Press Herald

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