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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Karen Young Lobbies for Medical Marijuana Amendment

George Wenschhof
Nicolas and Byron Moore
Photo by Amy Masser, Baby Face Photography
I spoke to Shannon Moore Sunday evening when she and her husband were in Children’s Hospital with their twins Nicolas and Byron. The twins were there to receive feeding tubes because seizures are keeping them from being able to eat.
The three-year old twins Nicolas and Byron (they call them Nico and Bebo) have a rare genetic disorder called Miller-Dieker Syndrome that causes severe, life-threatening seizures.
Shannon told me she first heard about medical marijuana as a treatment for epilepsy on a CNN special with Sanjay Gupta.  After considerable research and many conversations with other parents and medical professionals, she believes her children and many others could benefit from medical cannabis. She is convinced the treatment will save the lives of children with epilepsy.
Shannon Moore shared with me many of the key points on why medical marijuana is needed (that can be read here), including, but not limited to, “children with epilepsy take medicines with horrible side effects”.
More important, Shannon points out “cannabis is working on many children with epilepsy. About 15% of kids with epilepsy who are given high CBD low THC cannabis don't see a benefit.  But about 85% of them do, and about 60% of those kids see significant seizure reduction of about 80% or more.  There are a few kinds of epilepsy that have had the most promising results to date: Doose, Dravet, and Lennox-Gastaut Syndromes.  I listen with gratitude and some jealousy to parents on facebook whose kids are beginning to walk again, or talk, or eat on their own, or to smile - to play..”.
During a recent social encounter, Shannon shared with Karen Young her plight and her wish to see legislation enacted in Maryland to help her children and others.  Shannon said Karen’s reaction was immediate and she volunteered to help saying “I will go to bat for you”.  Shannon added “it was pretty amazing”.
When I reached former City of Frederick alderman and candidate for mayor; Karen Young, she told me “When she (Shannon) told me that, between the demands of her job and her children, she just didn't have sufficient time to pursue the legislation, I knew immediately what I would be doing.”
She added “Shannon is an amazing woman. She is one of the most knowledgeable people in the region on environmental sustainability. She is both knowledgeable and highly professional. Those who know her professionally would never know what she is going through. She is incredibly strong.” Shannon Moore is Manager of the Frederick County government office of Sustainability and Environmental Resources.
Karen Young, who has filed a "statement of organization" with the state and is considering a run for state delegate in district 3-a, said she immediately reached out to Maryland state delegate Patrick Hogan (R-district 3-a), who indicated his support from the Frederick County state delegation and also met with Maryland state senator Jamin (Jamie) Raskin (D-district 20) in Annapolis.

Delegate Hogan responded to my inquiry in an email and said he had spoken to both Shannon and Karen on this issue.  He stated "Shannon's sons and many other children and adults with similar conditions are not eligible under the legislation that we passed last year, so I plan to help correct that legislatively."

Hogan went on to say "I have spoken to Del. Dan Morhaim who sits on the Health and Government Operations Committee and has been one of the lead sponsors of the medical marijuana legislation. I asked him about a few specific conditions and he said he is in the process of drafting a bill to include various medical conditions that were not covered under the previous legislation. We plan to meet later this week to ensure that his legislation will include Miller-Dieker syndrome and other similar disorders."

Hogan concluded by saying "we are allowing medical marijuana in Maryland, so of course we should make sure it is available to those who can really benefit from it."
Karen said she was also heartened to hear from senator Raskin, who confirmed with me by email he informed her "I spoke with delegate Dan Morhaim, M.D. (D-district 11) after seeing you yesterday, and I will be cross-filing his legislation to expand the availability of medical marijuana by allowing doctors to prescribe it. In this futile, decades-long War on Drugs, at the very least we should get the sick, the injured, and the young off of the battlefield. Please tell Shannon that I am saddened by her story but inspired by her activism and her love as a parent."
It is encouraging to see this bipartisan effort underway in the Maryland state legislature. This common sense legislation is aimed at helping children and families in need across the state. It deserves prompt attention and approval by the General Assembly this session.   
As Shannon stated in an email “Thank you so much for taking the time to listen, and for your willingness to care.  I know that we can move mountains.”
Stay tuned.

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