Medical marijuana is legal in Illinois. But not for all disorders or illnesses. Epilepsy is one of them. Now a group of advocates from Rockford is headed to Springfield to change that.
"I became too skinny, I looked like a skeleton. And I did what I had to do," said Andrea Coleman.
What Coleman had to do was find a way to gain weight while on medication to combat her seizures from epilepsy. That answer was marijuana. But she says its benefits didn't stop at weight gain.
"Medications that make you lose weight or loss of appetite or pain after you have your seizures. And you're just passed out afterward with headaches and migraines and that's all things that I've experienced," said Coleman.
Her 11-year-old daughter, Ariel, has seen the effects of epileptic seizures on her mom first-hand.
"We actually thought my mom was turning into a monster and so that was really scary," said Ariel.
Now Coleman has an implanted device to help combat those seizures. But her battle with epilepsy remains.
"I get migraines here and there and for me it does help with migraines," she said.
Coleman's one of about a dozen people from the Rockford area headed to Springfield to advocate for a bill, allowing medical marijuana use for epileptic patients.
"We have people that are actually moving to Denver to get what we call the cannabis oil," said Barb Verni-Lau with the Epilepsy Foundation in Rockford.
Verni-Lau says there's medical proof marijuana helps.
"They say that their seizures slow down, that they feel better the pain is not there," said Verni-Lau
Republican State Senator Dave Syverson is a sponsor of the bill he says has bi-partisan support.
"It's kinda hard to say to someone that you don't have a right to try something that may make a difference for you," said Syverson.
Syverson says there's enough votes to get the bill past its first hurdle Tuesday. Whether it will pass the full senate in a few weeks is another story. But Syverson says it won't be any different from other disorders that can legally be treated with medical marijuana.
"Like the current law that's in place, this is not something that's easily abused. You're going to have to have a doctors prescription for it. It has to come from your primary care treating physician," said Syverson.
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