Source: By Tim Carpenter [email protected] / Jan 21 2015

Parents of children with profound medical challenges and adults with debilitating illnesses begged a Senate committee Wednesday to set aside political reservations and advance legislation to legalize consumption of marijuana in Kansas for medicinal purposes.

Topekan Tiffanie Krentz, mother of 10-year-old JJ who has a severe form of epilepsy known as Dravet syndrome, was among a cadre of parents to deliver emotional appeals to the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee.

Krentz said her family had done everything in their power to give the boy the best quality of life. She took him to see every doctor possible. He has ingested 16 of the 26 classes of anti-epileptic medications. He was provided with a range of therapy. Now, he is a resident of Parsons State Hospital. She doesn’t know whether cannabis will help her son, but the state’s prohibition on medical marijuana dispensaries makes it impossible to find out.

“I am terrified because we have nothing left to give JJ,” she said. “Please, look at these other children and give these families more hope than we had.”

Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook, a Shawnee Republican and chairwoman of the health committee, said the testimony was received during an “informational” hearing. No regular hearing on the subject is planned on Senate Bill 9 or any other legalization measure in the Republican-dominated committee, she said.

“We just heard one side today,” Pilcher-Cook said. “We need to hear the other side.”

Opponents of a legalization bill are scheduled to testify Thursday to the Senate committee.

Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized some form of medicinal marijuana, while Colorado and Washington states have gone the next step of implementing recreational marijuana sales.

Kiley and Gavin Klug, residents of the Kansas community of Odin, attended the hearing with her 7-year-old son Owen, At six months of age, Owen had his first seizure. It took years of testing, which included an exam that showed the boy endured more than 200 seizures in an 18-hour period, but he was diagnosed with Dravat syndrome.

His future development depends on controlling the seizures, which run from 10 to 40 per day, Kiley Klug said.

“This is what I know,” she said. “My husband and I are born and raised Kansans. We are practicing Catholics. We are conservative. We are educated. We have high moral standards. We obey the laws of this great state.

“But above all of those things, we are desperate parents who will do anything for our child. We have been backed up against a wall. Owen is honestly and literally out of options in the state of Kansas.”

She said her son couldn’t await government-sanctioned research or speeches about the potential side effects of medical cannabis.

“We know this medicine has worked for other children just like Owen,” Kiley Klug said. “Owen deserves this same chance to thrive. Please, pull back all of the layers to this controversial issue, clear your minds of all the negativity and stigma, and look this little boy straight in the eye. Be his hero today.”

Carl Williams, speaker pro-tem of the Kansas Silver Haired Legislature, said the organization representing more than 450,000 Kansans who are 60 years of age or older endorsed a resolution urging the Kansas Legislature and Gov. Sam Brownback to legalize medical marijuana.

He said it might surprise some people that a group of elderly Kansans support such reform.

“We believe it is time to replace 80-plus years of misinformation about marijuana with truthful, scientific, fact-based proof that it will help thousands of Kansans who suffer from a variety of medical conditions,” Williams said.

Hutchinson resident David Mulford, who suffers from debilitating back, chest and arm spasms of unknown origin, said he had tried every available prescription and home remedy that offered potential. He can’t take opioid-based medications and is allergic to other medications.

“My physicians have literally and figuratively given up hope of finding out what is behind this condition,” Mulford said. “Where no other medication worked, there was cannabis. It stopped the spasms nearly instantly and subdues the pain I live with not to exclusion but to a point that I can deal with it.”\

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