State Rep. Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, opposed a bill that would legalize the use of hemp extract to treat epilepsy.
Despite Schatz’s vote against the bill, the legislation has passed the Senate and House and now awaits the governor’s signature.
State Rep. Paul Curtman, R-Pacific, and State Rep. Dave Hinson, R-St. Clair, voted in favor of the bill.
Schatz said the use of hemp to treat epilepsy has not been properly studied. Legalizing hemp to treat the condition before doing research is putting the cart before the horse, Schatz added.
He was one of 12 representatives who opposed the bill — 137 voted in favor of it in the House.
There is no scientific research to say that it works, he said, adding that he is not against people taking every measure they can to treat epilepsy.
If it is found that hemp is an effective treatment, he supports letting people use it for that purpose, he said. But he does not want to act recklessly by approving the use without first knowing the side effects.
Hinson said he voted in favor of the bill because there have been studies to show that the treatment can reduce seizures in children and help them lead a more productive life.
Some of the children have problems such as muscular dystrophy and autism, and Hinson supports taking steps to help them.
Moreover, Hinson said Missouri is not the guinea pig on this issue because the use of hemp oil has been researched.
The bill cannot lead to a “backdoor” legalization of marijuana, Hinson added. It allows for the extraction of the hemp oil, not smoking the substance, he said.
Curtman said he heard a woman testify about the benefits of hemp oil to treat her daughter’s seizures. The woman’s daughter was having about 100 seizures per day, Curtman said, adding that hemp oil is in demand by parents. When the Republican Party talks about “market-based” solutions this is what is meant by that, Curtman said.
Parents would not be demanding a treatment that was harmful to their children, Curtman added.
The hemp oil would be highly regulated, and there would be checks and balances at the state level to make sure it did not become a slippery slope to marijuana legalization, Curtman said.
The Missouri Senate unanimously passed the bill last week after a state senator’s passionate speech about his son, the Associated Press reported. Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-St. Louis County, said families in Missouri are moving their entire lives to get treatment for their children and that they should be able to get it in their home state.
According to the AP, the bill would allow use of a “hemp extract” containing little of the chemical that causes marijuana users to feel high and larger amounts of a chemical called cannabidiol, or CBD.
Patients or their parents would need a registration card that would be issued by the state health department to Missouri residents. CBD oil only would be available after a neurologist has determined a patient’s epilepsy isn’t responding to at least three treatment options.