MASON CITY | A Mason City mother whose son has severe epilepsy expressed gratitude Friday to legislators in the Iowa House of Representatives who voted Thursday to approve the use of cannabis oil in the treatment of severe epilepsy.
The bill, which was previously approved in the Senate, now goes to Gov. Terry Branstad for his signature.
"I'm very excited," Cassie Helland said. "Now hopefully the governor will sign it."
The bill would permit Iowans to access cannabidiol (CBD), a form of cannabis oil, in the treatment of severe epilepsy.
Only people who obtain a neurologist's prescription would be issued a card giving them immunity from state prosecution if found in possession of the drug, which is a non-psychoactive component of marijuana.
Helland said she looks forward to her son's next appointment with his neurologist in Iowa City.
"I hope we can discuss getting him the cannabis oil then," she said.
Caleb, 9, has had epileptic seizures since he was 3 months old. He has been having more intense seizures, including grand mal seizures, in recent weeks. As a result his medications have been increased, Helland said.
Caleb's parents, Cassie and husband Justin, hope Caleb can be prescribed cannabis oil and taken off the other medications, which have side effects such as liver and kidney damage.
Cassie Helland has talked to mothers who have used CBD successfully with their children who have epileptic seizures. In some cases, the CBD put an end to the seizures altogether, she said.
Maria La France, a Des Moines mother who also has a son with epilepsy, has been at the Capitol nearly every day to lobby for the use of cannabis oil. She has posted daily updates on a Facebook page for other Iowa mothers of children with epilepsy to read.
Mothers like Helland, who have jobs outside the home and live farther away, couldn't be at the Capitol to make their voices heard in person.
"I'm very grateful to the families down in Des Moines who have spoken out," Helland said, "and also to all the legislators."