For State Senator Eric Schmitt (R-Glendale), who has a son with severe epilepsy, the day this bill is signed into law can’t come soon enough. Schmitt, along with his wife and three children, spent Thursday in Jefferson City, speaking before a senate committee on what this new epilepsy treatment would mean for them.
Schmitt explains, “Stephen’s been through a lot. Obviously it’s affected his development, he’s non-verbal, but I was proud, and I know Jaime was right there with me, to be a voice for Stephen and kids like Stephen, and to see that this can actually happen in our state.”
Nine year-old Stephen Schmitt had his first seizure at 11 months. Now, he suffers from 5 to 12 seizures per day. His mother, Jaime Schmitt, says, “Usually it just starts with him staring, and we go over and make sure it’s not going to get worse. If it gets to 15 minutes or so, then we call 911.”
Stephen’s father adds, “All we can really do is love him, and do the best we can. We’ve tried all the meds and they just haven’t stopped the seizures.”
Schmitt says his son is the perfect candidate to try this new treatment, called CBD oil. It’s a marijuana extract that’s high in cannabidiol, but low in THC, which is the chemical that creates a high.
“It’s been very effective in treating epilepsy. So you have families, Missourians moving to Colorado to get access to it, so the efficacy’s been very, very high, there’s a great demand for it,” explains Schmitt.
The marijuana plants that would be grown in Missouri would be genetically modified and highly regulated. “So the THC levels are very, very low,” says Schmitt, “You can’t get high on it, and the CBD levels are very high. And so what they do is they extract the oil from the plant, which is then orally administered."
Schmitt says CBD oil could be available to epilepsy patients in Missouri within a year, and with that, the opportunity for healthier development and a happier life, for kids like Stephen. “There are so many things that could change,” his mother says.
Although the bill unanimously passed in the Senate, not all state representatives approved. Some felt there wasn’t enough medical evidence supporting this treatment, and called for more clinical trials.
Meanwhile, lawmakers in Illinois are also working to pass legislation that would approve CBD oil for those suffering from epilepsy.