Versailles Family Pushing for Cannabis Oil Bill

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VERSAILLES - House bill 2238 would legalize the growth and sale of cannabis oil to treat epilepsy in the state of Missouri.  If Governor Jay Nixon decides to approve the bill backed by the Senate May 1, families with epileptic children could see a bright future ahead for their children.

Four-year-old Zayden Rayl has a condition called Microcephaly, also known as MCSZ.  MCSZ is a neurological disorder where the head circumference is less than it should be. The disorder has many symptoms, but the most severe for Zayden is his epilepsy that started when he was three months old.

Zayden's mom Heidi Rayl gives her son a total of ten different medications every day.

"He has Topamax, this is a seizure medication. Lamictal which is a seizure medication. Clonazapam which is for seizures. Pepcid for tummy and Melatonin to help with sleep," Heidi Rayl said.

Zayden receives Medicaid support through the state. Over a month's time, his daily prescriptions cost $1,155.84 and monthly supplies and machine rentals cost $2,961.82.

"How many people if they were able to have medical marijuana could save the state of Missouri thousands of dollars," Heidi Rayl said. "To not have to depend on all of these meds and all of the equipment and the machines at night, it would just be wonderful for him and as well for the state to save financially."

Heidi takes Zayden to the capitol each week to lobby for her son's chance at a healthier life alongside other families in similar situations.

The state of Colorado legalized medical marijuana more than a decade ago. Director of operations at 3D Cannabis Center in Denver Christie Lunsford said she is contacted daily by parents whose children suffer from severe epilepsy.

"For children that have epilepsy, having a full plant remedy of THC paired with CBD and the synergy of those two cannabinoid constituents allows the child to experience fewer and fewer spasms and also allows them to use fewer and fewer pharmaceutical drugs," Lunsford said.

Because of a lack of medical marijuana resources for epilepsy in Missouri and other states throughout the country, families are choosing to relocate to Colorado for treatment purposes.

"They are coming by the thousands to Colorado, relocating all over the state and what they're looking for is marijuana with high CBD or cannabidol profiles," Lunsford said.

The director of The Marijuana Industry Group (MIG) in Colorado, Michael Elliott, said there is a strong majority support for legalization throughout the country right now.

"You start looking at medical marijuana and the pulling for medical marijuana starts getting into the 60s and 70s [percent] of support," Elliott said.

Elliott mentioned Utah as an example of a state that is taking steps similar to Missouri to legalize marijuana sales for medical purposes.

"The state of Utah passed a medical marijuana law, it's a CBD only bill, which is very limited, but they passed it," Elliott said.  Now those medical marijuana laws and proposals are being proposed in Kentucky, Alabama...they are now apart of the group of states that are out there basically defying federal law."

Rep. Caleb Jones, R-Columbia sponsored House bill 2238. The legislation is Missouri's first move away from a strict stance against marijuana, even for medical purposes.