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SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah lawmaker has joined a family's fight to legally obtain a cannabis extract and bring it back across state lines to give to their ailing children.
The extract, distributed by Colorado non-profit Realm of Caring, is said to be highly effective in combatting a severe form of epilepsy known as Dravet Syndrome.
"This is not medical marijuana," said Rep. Gage Froerer, R-Huntsville. "This is entirely the opposite."
Froerer may be something of an unlikely ally in this cause. The architect of the bill that outlawed synthetic marijuana or "spice," he says this cannabis extract isn't even the same thing as medical marijuana.
The substance contains extremely low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical that elicits a high. At the same time, it is said to contain a high concentration of cannabidiol (CBD), which is the component that fights against seizures.
It is administered as a drop that is taken by mouth.
"We need to take a strong look at this and make sure that we as a legislature and we as citizens understand really what this is and what it's not," Froerer said.
Froerer said he is looking at possible administrative rule changes in the state, but also said he would sponsor legislation if it came to that.
He said a meeting in November with the Utah Substance Abuse Advisory Council will yield answers.
"I think this gives us an opportunity in the state of Utah to really be proactive, especially when it comes to the health of our citizens and being positive in what we can do to help our children," Froerer said.
President of the Epilepsy Association of Utah, Annette Maughan, said that their organization feels very fortunate the Froerer is fighting to aid the suffering of several children.
"We consider ourselves blessed to have the support of Representative Froerer," Maughan said. "His reputation with the Spice bill was exactly what we were looking for to help people understand that the medicine we need is non narcotic. We are thankful everyday that he is the House Representative standing up for our children.
"The fact that Alepsia has less than .5% THC means it meets the federal definition of an industrial hemp quality product. The current Utah law doesn't exclude its use but also doesn't allow for its use. We are in limbo until Utah lawmakers decide what to call it."