Families Learn About Medical Marijuana as Advocates Rally for Legalization

By Joe Gullo

Published 03/20 2014 01:10PM

Updated 03/20 2014 01:13PM

SYRACUSE, N.Y. - Supporters of the Compassionate Care Act will head to Albany next week to urge State lawmakers to pass a bill that would allow patients with a severe illness to use medical marijuana.

Central New Yorkers got the chance to hear more about the bill on Wednesday night during a forum held at Barbagallo’s restaurant.

Kathy Annable, who spoke at the forum, is fighting to treat her young daughter with medical marijuana.

Severe seizures began when Kaylie Annable was a baby. She's been in and out of the hospital throughout her life suffering from a rare neurological disorder called Aicardi Syndrome.

"For 11 years, we have watched daily seizures,” Annable said. “We just want to help her. I just want to help her. I just want to make it all better."

Dr. Gene Tinelli, an Associate Professor at Upstate Medical University, who also spoke at the forum, says he has unofficially recommended medical marijuana for 35 years. He's particularly interested in a component of the drug known as CBD.

"It can stop seizures in their tracks for children who have neurological disorders. If you don't stop them at age 3 or 5 years old, by the time they are adolescents, their brain is mush," Dr. Tinelli said. 

Supporters of legalization say approval from the FDA has been a major challenge because the drug was classified as dangerous decades ago.

"It's in a schedule one, which is the most stringent, considered the most addictive, with no medical efficacy. Other drugs in that class are heroin and crystal meth," explained pharmacist Melanie Martin.

There's concern about the health consequences of inhaling the drug in cigarette form. It's also harder to control the dosage of components like THC, which gives users a high.

Kaylie's mother wants to try an oil form of marijuana that isn't smoked, which reportedly reduces the high and is legally available in Colorado, a state where the drug is no longer banned. 

“I hope that moving out of New York is not what we have to do. We need to have it here, so that I can get access to it and see if it will help her," Annable said. "I gave birth to Kaylie, not a senator, not a politician. I did. It's heartbreaking to think that somebody else is telling me that I can't provide this for my child." 

If you'd like to read the medical marijuana bill that was proposed to New York lawmakers, click here

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