Parents plead with lawmakers to bring pot oil to Vermont - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Parents plead with lawmakers to bring pot oil to Vermont

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"I'm here to fight for him today," Danielle Pinders said.

Pinders' 3-year-old son has Angelman syndrome, a genetic disorder that attacks the nervous system and causes seizures.

"The last three years we've had to live our lives in a constant state of fear knowing that a seizure could come at any time," Pinders said.

Now a medical marijuana treatment is showing promise. The only problem-- it's in Colorado and legally can't cross state lines. Charlotte's Web is an oil extracted from pot plants. Bringing it to Vermont would be a federal crime.

"Little ol' me, I would be a drug trafficker if I brought a medicine home that could potentially help and heal my child," Pinders said.

Pinders is one of three parents who shared tearful testimony before lawmakers, pleading for their help. They want Vermont's medical marijuana dispensaries to be allowed to grow a similar strain.

"I can't do something that's going to be against federal law," said Rep. Ann Pugh, D-South Burlington.

Pugh says while she supports offering the cannabis oil to kids, she doesn't know how to get the pot seed here legally.

"That's a dilemma," Pugh said.

Last month, we introduced you to Annie Galloway and her daughter in our special report, "Medicine for Maitri." In December they moved from South Burlington to Colorado so the 10-year-old could try the treatment. Since starting Charlotte's Web, Maitri's mom says her daughter's seizures have dropped by 80 percent.

"Even though she has these terrible challenges she's still the love of our life," said Judy Galloway, Maitri's grandmother.

Maitri's grandmother is hoping for the best, but wants her family back home. Annie Galloway appealed to lawmakers over the phone, pushing them to consider a compassionate use law.

"Some children have passed away before they can try this newfound treatment and this is a crime," she said. "The more states that follow suit and sign these laws, the more pressure this will put on the federal government to change federal law."

Lawmakers also questioned one of the creators of Charlotte's Web on medical trials, costs and partnerships. Joel Stanley says his organization has already licensed medical marijuana growers to duplicate the drug in Canada and several U.S. states. He says good communication is all it would take to partner with Vermont.

"We're very careful with the relationships we create," Stanley said.

Stanley worries about quality control and purity of the product if the recipe is shared. Charlotte's Web would also get 15 percent of the Vermont profits.

But for families like the Pinders, who can't move to Colorado, a partnership may be their only hope.

"Now is the time," Danielle Pinders said. "We can't wait."

Charlotte's Web is very low in THC, similar to hemp, so the kids don't get high when they ingest the oil. Six to 12 plants are required per patient to produce enough oil, meaning Vermont would have to up its limits.

Vermont's leading pediatric neurologist told lawmakers he supports the treatment, but is calling for more clinical trials and research before he can say it's safe. Dr. Gregory Holmes says UVM is ready to take on a clinical trial but admits those trials and Food and Drug Administration approval could take years-- time these kids don't have.

Related Story:

Medicine for Maitri

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