Va. woman living with M.S. advocates for law allowing cannabis oil prescriptions


    (Photo: WTVR)<p>{/p}

    RICHMOND, Va. (WSET) -- A Virginia mother and teacher is advocating for a change in a state law that would allow people with severe medical conditions to use cannabis oil prescribed by a doctor.

    According to WTVR, Tamra Netzel has been a teacher for 16 years, but was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (M.S.) five years ago. Following her diagnosis, Netzel thought she would be able to continue to work.

    "My legs might go, I can still teach in a wheelchair. I have a cane some days; I have a wheelchair some days. That's fine!" she said.

    Last March, Netzel's doctors said her prescription medications were causing her liver to fail and her symptoms of M.S. were becoming more severe.

    According to Netzel, she began using cannabis oil after speaking to a friend. The oil is medication derived from a marijuana plant that does not cause psychotropic effects.

    "It worked like nothing else did, but I couldn't deal with the fact that I would have to break the law to be able to feel well," she said.

    Former Governor McAuliffe signed a new legislation in 2017 that allows patients with severe forms of epilepsy to use cannabis oil to alleviate symptoms. According to advocates, the law stops there.

    SB 726 and HB 1251 would allow Virginia doctors the option to prescribe cannabis oil to patients for "any diagnosed condition or disease determined by the practitioner to benefit from such use."

    Senator Siobhan Dunnavant (R - Henrico), an OBGYN by trade, said medical researchers continue to find new uses for medical marijuana.

    According to Dunnavant, Virginia physicians, not lawmakers, should be the gatekeepers who would and would not benefit from cannabis oil.

    "We don't need to be coming back to the legislature every year for legislators who are not subject matter experts to be reviewing what the latest data is and deciding if there is a medical indication. That's something that needs to sit with doctors," Dunnavant said.

    Netzel said she once believed that cannabis was not a good thing until she needed it.

    Both the House and Senate versions of the cannabis oil legislation have passed through committee assignments practically unopposed.

    Cannabis Oil critics argue there has not been enough research into side effects that prove using the oils over the long term is safe and that its medicinal effectiveness is over blown.

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