BURLINGTON — A new treatment for seizure disorders, pushed by a Burlington mother and other parents around the state, became legal Wednesday with a bill-signing ceremony at the state Capitol.
Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill legalizing cannabidiol, or CBD, which has reportedly been shown to work for children in Colorado. It was illegal in Wisconsin because it contains a small amount of THC, the component present in marijuana, but advocates noted that CBD could never be used as recreational marijuana.
The bill was written narrowly to apply only to CBD, which must be administered by a physician and is not considered by advocates to be “medical marijuana.”
Sally Schaeffer of Burlington advocated for the bill on behalf of her daughter, Lydia, who suffers from a rare form of epilepsy that results in numerous seizures in her sleep. The family began pushing for CBD after many other medications and procedures either didn’t work or worked initially and then fell off.
Schaeffer and the rest of her family were in Madison for the signing.
“It was very exciting, very emotional,” Schaeffer said. “It seemed very surreal that we were able, as a group of parents across the state, to get this in just a few months signed by Governor Walker and get wonderful bipartisan support.
“To know it could possibly save thousands of kids from the effects of seizures and the medications they are currently on, it was a very heartfelt moment.”
Schaeffer thanked lawmakers, including those from Racine County who helped get the measure passed in the state Senate 33-0 and in the Assembly on a voice vote.
“This new law will hopefully give relief to children and others who suffer from multiple seizures every day,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said in a statement. “The legislation was truly a result of a strong network of parents, including a couple from my district, who came forward and shared a compelling story about why the bill needed to become law.”
State Sen. Bob Wirch, D-Somers, who sponsored the Senate version of the legislation, said the new law took cooperation from legislators of each party.
“My colleagues and I worked across the aisle to make that happen. That is how legislating should be – working together for the good of the people of Wisconsin,” Wirch said in a statement.
Schaeffer said the drug is expected to become available in Wisconsin this fall.
The bill signing was held the same week as Lydia’s birthday on Saturday.
“This is a wonderful gift for her as she moves into her 7th birthday,” Schaeffer said.