“Will’s Law” is no more.
Bellevue State Sen. Sue Crawford, citing a lack of support from epilepsy specialists, announced she has withdrawn Legislative Bill 1102, which would have made it legal to use a non-hallucinogenic form of hemp oil for the treatment of intractable epilepsy.
In her motion to withdraw the bill, Crawford cited an earlier statement that she would not pursue legalization unless it was backed by at least one Nebraska epilepsy specialist practicing in a “Level 4” epilepsy center.
“At this time, these physicians in our state are unable to support the bill,” she said.
Crawford said doctors will not approve a medical option that has not been subjected to rigorous tests, without which they cannot know of harmful side effects.
They also fear that parents will turn to the untested oil instead of medically approved surgery, and that a lack of regulation means that no quality control standards are in place.
Crawford proposed the bill after Shelley and Dominic Gillen, a Bellevue couple, sought the right to treat their 11-year-old son, Will, with the oil.
Will has suffered hundreds of seizures a week all his life despite the use of traditional anti-convulsants.
The oil is legal in Colorado. A stream of encouraging testimonies from families whose epileptic children had benefited from the oil motivated the Gillens to make their case at a Crawford town hall meeting last November.
Crawford noted a top pediatric neurologist at the University of Utah had supported a similar bill pending in that state, and she hoped comparable support might be found in Nebraska.
In addition, she said, similar efforts are under way in Alabama.
“I introduced this bill because I feel it is important that we have a conversation about hemp oil and its potential to help children and others who suffer from devastating seizures,” she said.
She said an online petition supporting legalization has been signed by more than 2,800 people.
Crawford said she is not giving up on the issue entirely. She has introduced a legislative resolution calling for a study of hemp oil and its effectiveness in treating epilepsy.
She also cited federal and state legal initiatives that might make it easier to authorize the use of hemp oil.
Given the changing landscape regarding the medical use of non-hallucinatory marijuana, Crawford said an interim study could be useful.
“An interim study will allow us to see what has happened in other states that are attempting to decriminalize hemp oil,” she said.
Shelley Gillen said Crawford informed her she was withdrawing the bill.
She said she had hoped that the process could unfold, at least to see what support might exist in the Legislature to legalize the hemp oil.
Neither she nor her husband, Dominic, said they would give up the fight to win the chance to try the oil.
Dominic said a bill pending in the Legislature would acknowledge changes to federal law that have legalized the use of non-hallucinogenic hemp for industrial purposes.
Although now legal under federal law, the Legislature must legalize industrial hemp in the state, he said, and if it does it might become possible to use the oil.
“This oil has been showing results for a long time,” he said. “I just wish the doctors would get on board.”