Senator's passionate plea leads to passage of hemp oil measure
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Senator's passionate plea leads to passage of hemp oil measure

Date: May 1, 2014
By: Emma Nicolas
State Capitol Bureau
Links: Hb 2238

JEFFERSON CITY - Passionate plea from Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-St. Louis County, lead to the passage of a hemp oil measure, Thursday May 1.

Schmitt first discovered his son, Stephen, 9, had epilepsy when he was 5-months old. Stephen struggles with seizures daily, one of which lasted four hours. During those four hours, doctors tried every possible treatment with no avail.

"I pray every night when I'm holding him that something will make a difference. I don't know if this will. We have had hope before and it hasn't worked out. This might or might not, but we are willing to try. There's a lot of families that are," said Schmitt.

Schmitt said families are moving from Missouri to states where they can access the hemp oil extract, cannabidiol or CBD, for their children.

This bill, which received overwhelming support in both chambers, would legalize the growth and use of CBD as a treatment for epileptics who have exhausted all other alternatives.

The measure passed in the Senate with an amendment that Rep. Mike Colona, D-St. Louis City, said makes it the most restricted hemp bill in the entire country.

"This is one of those moments in all our legislative careers that once we pass this bill...we can go to bed knowing that we've done something to help people," Colona said.

Rep. Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, spoke in opposition to the bill. He said he believed more clinical trials needed to be conducted before this bill passed.

"Is there anything to prove that CBD is the magic bullet we've been looking for?" Schatz said.

Colona said his concern is valid, but that CBD oil has shown to be far more successful in saving lives of epileptics "time after time".

The bill would allow the Department of Agriculture to grow industrial hemp for research and treatment purposes only. The hemp would primarily contain CBD and no more than .3 percent of THC, the substance that allows marijuana users to feel a high.

Under the measure, it would be illegal to purchase this product without a valid registration card, and only licensed growers may grow the plant. All the waste from hemp plants would either be destroyed or donated to facilities for research purposes.

The bill passed with a 138-9 House vote, and is now being sent to the governor.

The measure passed with an emergency clause, meaning it would go into affect immediately following the governor’s signature.


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