A new non-profit organization is rallying support for legislation allowing the use of a specific type of medical marijuana. Caring 4 Florida was founded in January this year by Peyton and Holley Moseley. The not-for-profit organization is intended educate and advocate for the legalization of non-euphoric strains of cannabis for use by epilepsy patients. The Moseley’s eleven year old daughter, RayAnn, has intractable epilepsy and cerebral palsy.
“We have tried numerous different treatments, dozens of different pharmaceuticals, different diets, surgeries,” Holley said. “Our current option right now is to do what’s called a corpus callosotomy, which is to separate her right and left hemisphere of the brain, potentially cutting it in half. Or to try something that’s less invasive, that’s natural, and that’s the Charlotte’s Web.”
Charlotte’s Web is processed into an extract that is administered under the tongue or with food. It contains higher levels of cannabidol than recreational marijuana, but does not induce a “high.” The Stanley brothers of Colorado Springs, CO grow the Charlotte’s Web strain. To find out more, the Moseleys visited them and saw firsthand the treatment’s effects on epilepsy patients.
“We went out there to Colorado and saw the families, met the families, heard their testimonies,” Peyton said. “That’s really where we just became a believer. We see these kids who can talk now, that weren’t talking before they got on Charlotte’s web, who can write their name for the first time, who are just showing emotion that they’ve never shown before.”
Holley Moseley says the Stanley brothers are currently serving three hundred patients in Colorado, and have a waitlist of nearly one thousand people to receive the treatment. Medical marijuana may be prescribed to Colorado residents with eligible medical conditions and the authorization of two doctors. Peyton says their family considered moving before they decided to found Caring 4 Florida.
“Are we going to move to Colorado, is this what we’re going to do?” Peyton said. “We talked about that, and we said there’s just way too many other people in our state that need help, that are out of medical options like we are. How selfish would that be of us just to pick up and move when we could stay here in Florida and help these other people.”
Moseley says proposed house and senate bills would allow patients access to the treatment more quickly than through the general medical marijuana ballot initiative.
“We can push through House Bill 843 and Senate Bill 1030 this session, and have it law July 1st, and we can have seeds in the ground growing Charlotte’s Web in Florida July 1st. Whereas if we waited for the ballot for November, even it does pass and they get sixty percent of the votes, it’s gonna be tied up for years, making the rules and regulations. So you could be looking at 2017, 2018 before medical patients get medical marijuana in their hands,” Peyton said.
The sponsor of House Bill 843 is Representative Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach. He was recently invited to discuss the issue at a Caring 4 Florida event held at Atlas Restaurant in downtown Pensacola. Gaetz says he took interest in the issue after viewing Sanjay Gupta’s documentary, “Weed.”
“I saw a documentary one day on television that told an amazing story of a little girl in Colorado who went from being on a feeding tube with two or three hundred seizures a week, to being able to walk and talk and ride bikes. It was a result of medical marijuana that couldn’t get anybody high, but that made this girl well. And I thought that the parents in Florida that wanted the same outcome for their children shouldn’t be considered criminals,” Gaetz said.
On Monday, the cannabis bill was added to the agenda of the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee, which Gaetz chairs.
“It’s legislation that would legalize non-euphoric marijuana, so it won’t be able to get anybody high, but it will help these children with severe intractable epilepsy live longer, more fulfilling lives. We have about 125,000 kids in our state with intractable epilepsy and many of them won’t make it until their twentieth birthday because they will die as a result of a horrible seizure,” Gaetz said.
Caring 4 Florida is currently engaged in lobbying legislators in the House and Senate, where a similar measure has been filed. Senate Bill 1030 has the support of Senate President Don Gaetz, Matt Gaetz’ father. However, both are opposed to the less restrictive medical marijuana ballot initiative.