Patients Lobby Lawmakers For Access to Medical Marijuana

Feb 2, 2016

Beth Collins and other families lobbying outside of the General Assembly Building in Richmond.

A fight to get access to lifesaving medication enters its second year at the state capitol.  It may be an uphill battle in this conservative state-- because the medication is derived from marijuana.

Last year, Virginia passed a law allowing Beth Collins to give her teenaged daughter, who suffers from severe epilepsy, the one substance that’s successfully treated her seizures -- an oil that comes from marijuana.

“I put it in a tiny dropper, put it under her tongue. Three times a day, she doesn’t like the taste, but it works,” said Collins.

Technically, Collins could still be arrested for possessing the substance -- but thanks to a law passed last year, she can avoid prosecution with a doctor’s note.

“So they can’t, you know, send us to jail,” said Collins.

Now, Collins is back at the capitol, along with other families seeking easier access to the treatment. The law they’re backing would allow Virginia pharmacies to create and sell the medication. This would give patients a legal way to access the drug.

“I’d rather not say where I obtain my medicine, which is sad, isn’t it?” Collins said. "I wish I could just go to the CVS and get it, but I can’t.”

27,000 Virginians are affected by severe seizures. Prescription drugs are available to treat epilepsy, but they don’t always work and often have severe side effects.