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Illinois House Oks Medicinal Marijuana for Epileptic Children

Update Date: May 22, 2014 09:58 AM EDT

Doctors in Illinois might soon be able to prescribe epileptic children medicinal marijuana. On Wednesday, the house voted 98-19 in favor of the bill that will permit children under the age of 18 to take a derivative of medical cannabis as a treatment option. The bill specifically stated that children would not be allowed to smoke the substance.

"These people are not interested in getting high," Democratic Representative Lou Lang from Skokie said. "These are folks that are interested in alleviating their seizures."

The bill, number 2636 was sponsored Lang. Even though the House has passed the bill, the bill still needs to go back to the Senate where the changes will be made. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, when the bill hits the floor of the Senate, the Department of Public Health will have its chance to argue for the extension of medicinal marijuana for children with other health conditions, such as Crohn's disease and cancer.

"We're giving them [the Department of Public Health] a lot of leeway to decide...what conditions this product could be used for, setting it up with the rulemakers and not just specifying that it's only for epilepsy-which we know it helps epilepsy," Representative Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton said. "They're going to have a lot of leeway here."

Despite popular belief that marijuana can ease the symptoms of epilepsy, many experts remind people that the effects of marijuana in treating epilepsy remain unknown. The reports that the substance helps have mainly been observations made by parents of epileptic children. The studies that have argued for the beneficial effects of medicinal marijuana on epilepsy have mostly been small or animal studies.

"There is a critical need for new therapies, especially for childhood-onset treatment-resistant epilepsies that impair quality of life and contribute to learning and behavioral disorders," Dr. Maria Roberta Cilio, director of pediatric epilepsy research at the University of California, San Francisco, said reported by FOX News. "Patients, families and the medical community need objective and unbiased data on safety and efficacy to endorse a new drug to treat epilepsy."

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