Could a weed bill puff puff pass in Virginia?

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

There is a new push to Educate Virginia lawmakers about the benefits of Medical Marijuana. And it’s not coming from stoners who want to get high; the message is coming from a group of folks who see the weed as a way to heal.

In the Northern Neck of Virginia lives a woman a crusader really by the name of Lisa Smith. She wasn’t always that way until she became a Mom.

“I’m probably the least typical person you would think of fighting for medical marijuana,” she said.

“I home school my kids, I go to Church on Sundays, I watch Fox News.” Smith has twin boys, but her oldest daughter, Haley, is 13-years-old and suffers from Dravet Syndrome. The Seizures begin during the first year of life and convulsive seizures persist, often occurring in sleep. Smith showed us video of Haley during a seizure in her sleep, and it’s very hard to watch.

Smith recorded 800 seizures last year alone which is why she is pushing for legal marijuana in the state of Virginia.

“Families in Colorado who are using the medical cannabis oil for their kids with Dravet Syndrome, it increases awareness, ability to learn again, they have reduced seizures from 50 to 100 percent .“

On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in Richmond, Smith joined others as they walked from office to office at the General Assembly to raise awareness to gain support to legalize medical marijuana in Virginia.

Lt. Governor Ralph Northam knows a little something about Haley’s quality of life; he was her Pediatric neurologist in her early years.

As Lt. governor, he is seriously looking into the science of medical marijuana.

“Families have used this and found wonderful responses in their children, so we need to do some further research,” says Northam.

Presently 20 states, including the District of Columbia, have enacted laws to legalize medical marijuana. Ten others states have pending legislation as of the end of last month and Virginia is not among them.

“The flip side of it is that marijuana can actually trigger seizures in some people so it’s not as straight forward as we’d like it to be. That’s why further studies are needed,” says Northam.”

Lisa wonders if relief will come in time for her daughter who is on a battery of heavy duty rescue drugs. “When we walk by her bed at night, we look to see if she is still alive,” says Smith

Matters of law are not ruled by emotion, but the lt. governor may have a stop gap that may come into play before proposed legislation.

Northam says “We can apply for what we call compassionate use of it, so we’re looking into avenues to do that.”

And for those who were looking for a weed bill this session – hang on until next year, but Northam says it’s on his agenda.

“We’re going to have some legislation that’s proposed in place that will be ready to go in the upcoming year,” he says.

There are states that already use a synthesized version of marijuana shown to have medical value. A medicinal statute was passed in Virginia in the late 1970’s, which means practitioners can write prescriptions for the drug here, but they run the risk of being prosecuted by federal authorities. It’s a catch 22 that can only be resolved by a medical marijuana bill, which is expected to come up in the 2015 General Assembly.


  • Addie Jeanette Best

    if you love your child and want to see her seizures stop all together stop mixing medications together. all she needs is Dilantin and a apiran a day and at night and phenobartibal and mysolyn is not good mixed together they will cause you to have seizures and and you can not mixed pain med with seizures med.
    and when she feels like she is going to have one klonapin does the best and only take it when needed I have had seizures lad to meet with you and her doctorsince the age of \five and I am my on doctor and I would be glad to meet with you and her doctor if you love her you would help her because do not know everything addie Jeanette best

    • Lisa S.

      Addie I appreciate your desire to help my child, BUT you are incorrect. Dilantin is actually a sodium channel blocker and will cause MORE seizures for my daughter. Please know with epilepsy there is NO “one size fits all”. Please educate yourself on Dravet syndrome before you make any medical/pharmaceutical recommendations.

      • Dustin Cavanaugh

        I have bipolar type 1 and half of my life has been spent on different mood stabilizers which are just anticonvulsants. Depakote, Lamictal, and Trileptal. Most of these have been mildly effective at best. Depakote even started to damage my liver. I tried marijuana for the first time a little bit after I turned 18. I have found it helps with the mood swings better than anything. After seeing Sanjay Gupta’s special “Weed” and the girl Charlotte who also had Dravet Syndrome I saw all of the mentions of marijuana helping with seizures and epilepsy. I decided to look up bipolar studies. There is a cambridge study that shows while it decreases cognitive functioning in schizophrenics, it increases cognitive function in bipolar patients. So I am very much hoping marijuana is legalized here soon as well. It’s what I rely on for my mood swings after taking many different cocktails from the age of 12. I am 25 now.

    • Heidi M.

      Ignorance isn’t always bliss, is it Ms. Best? To advise a mother what medications to give her daughter, based on information from some online/internet source, is ignorant. This woman has held her daughter during seizures, stood by as she has undergone numerous surgeries, fought hard for equal schooling rights & you think she is going to wash her hands of all she has done & spoon feed her daughter pills that you spoke of because you think it’s best! All I can do is shake my head & wonder how your mind works, in order to think it was ok to post such foolery here! Also, for the record, my father has epilepsy & kolopin makes things worse for him. So, may I kindly suggest that you #1. read, listen to & learn from the education Lisa is trying to provide about the benefits of medical cannabis. #2. Fix your grammar & check your spelling about the drugs you are suggesting Lisa feed her child #3. NEVER, EVER suggest that anyone, especially Lisa, does NOT love their child.

      And News Ch.3…glad to see you were able to put a negative spin on a positive story for a sweet child! “Could a weed bill puff puff pass in Virginia?” I guess “Learn the positive effects MEDICAL CANNABIS could have on a young girl stricken with seizures from the start of her life!” …..but I guess that wouldn’t be newsworthy enough! Shame on you!

      • Laura

        Well said Heidi! I must add that the MMJ that Lisa spoke about is an oil and is not the “puff, puff” that the news channel perceived it to be!

  • Beth Collins

    I’m sorry, Addie, I don’t know your background, but I don’t think you understand Lisa’s daughter’s syndrome, or the various types of medications and their effects. Not all epilepsy is the same, and not all cases of epilepsy respond to the same medication, or combinations of medications. There are many children with medication-resistant epilepsy, such as Lisa’s (and my daughter’s). Lisa IS doing the best thing for her daughter, she is fighting for her right to try a medication that is showing a great deal of promise since all other medications have failed her. This is a brave and strong woman who is fueled by the love and compassion she has for her daughter and other children like her (including my own). There are lots of children who could benefit from medical marijuana and it is just wrong to keep it from them. I urge everyone who lives in the state of VA, to call or write their VA reps and senators, and urge them to vote for a safe medical marijuana bill for VA.

  • Amy T Sroka

    Unless you are a medical professional that is an expert in Dravet Syndrome, which is what Haley has, you need to not worry about the medications she is currently on.
    I know that mother personally. She is doing everything in her power to keep Haley alive.
    Do not judge her or think you know better for her child.

    If all of those medications you just listed, worked for every patient with epilepsy, do you THINK we’d be fighting for medical marijuana?

    Walk a mile in her shoes …

  • Melanie James

    Why are we locked in this prohibition? Marijuana is showing more and more efficacy in treating a variety of problems, not just seizures in children. It has been shown to reduce tremors in Parkinson’s, resolve IBS, relieve crippling anxiety, and a host of other things. Big Pharama is at the root of the prohibition. If we can grow our own meds, they are cut out.

  • Hillary

    Lisa I wish you the best of luck on your journey. I will pray for your daughter and family. I have a family member who suffers from terminal disease and he also uses it for medical reasons. They said he would only make it 6 months and it’s 11 years later and this is the only way he is able to eat. He has relocated to a area that allows him the treatment He needs. Continue to fight for whatever may bring her a better quality of life.

  • anxious roy

    Good job people, fighting the good fight. As a person with severe anxiety I know all too well the benifits certain strains of marijuana can have for me. The alternative is xanax, and without coverage this can be expensive. If I could grow my own medication It would be a lifesaver. I commend you Lisa S. for your efforts to push this state out of the dark ages and to stick it to the money grubbing pharma companies getting rich off of our illnesses. Keep fighting the good fight!

  • DickN

    I support making ANY drug (crack, heroine, ecstasy, marijuana, cocaine, etc.) available to patients with debilitating illness. I cannot possibly imagine how much pain some of them go through. Obviously it would all have to be VERY carefully regulated and controlled, but nonetheless I support it.

    With that being said, I have to say I don’t feel very much for this woman. As a parent I sympathize, but what really gets me is how she proclaims she’s “‘probably the least typical person you would think of fighting for medical marijuana'”

    “‘I home school my kids, I go to Church on Sundays, I watch Fox News.’ Smith has twin boys, but her oldest daughter, Haley, is 13-years-old and suffers from Dravet Syndrome.”

    I could be wrong, but this makes her seem to be a pretty hardline conservative with almost everything BUT this issue.

    There’s hundreds of thousands upon millions of people out there that suffer due to her political ideologies, yet she doesn’t realize it.

    What she does realize is that this issue affects HER, so she wants it changed.

    I suggest she take some time to reflect and see the damage her ideals do to others in society.

    Just like she’s fighting for change to help HER family, there are millions of others out there fighting to help THEIR families. Unfortunately, they, like her, are being roadblocked by the Republican party.

    • Heidi M.

      Mr. DickN, I truly don’t believe the news segment aired this or Lisa agreed to do this as a political move, so you labeling it as such is foolish. This isn’t about a Democrat or Republican, this is about a little girl & her family, passionate about trying to find a way to live a seizure free life, while also educating the masses about the positive uses of medicinal marijuana.
      I guess there are some people who will turn a McDonalds French fry into a political debacle!

      • DickN

        Heidi, it very much is political. She’s quoted as saying she’s:

        “‘probably the least typical person you would think of fighting for medical marijuana’

        “‘I home school my kids, I go to Church on Sundays, I watch Fox News.’”

        It seems very clear she’s staunch in her political ideology, which is why the article is saying her fight for medical marijuana is so unbelievable/surprising.

        The fact is, it’s NOT unbelievable, nor surprising, because she’s fighting for change that will help HER and HER family.

        That’s the point being made. We cannot just advocate for things that benefit us, we have to advocate for things that benefit others as well.

        I firmly believe everyone wants to live in peace, but unfortunately the Republican party pushes an agenda that is contrary to that goal.

        As I said, I’m all for medical marijuana, but that’s because I’m putting myself in the shoes of the sick. It would be very easy for me to say “Well, I’m not sick, I don’t like marijuana, so nobody should be allowed to do it,” but that’s not fair.

        If everyone put themselves in the shoes of another when thinking about an issue, the world would be a much better place.

  • Danny C.

    I believe adults should have the right to use marijuana responsibly, whether for medical or personal purposes. All penalties, both civil and criminal, should be eliminated for responsible use.
    I feel a legally regulated market should be established where consumers could buy marijuana in a safe and secure environment.
    Finally, I believe that if hemp, the tough, coarse fiber of the cannabis plant were legal to grow in America, it would have a positive effect on the economics of this country. Hemp has an estimated $500 billion annual potential worldwide market. Anything made from trees, cotton or petroleum can be made from hemp.

  • On Shifting Sand

    Addie, it’s very unfair of you to even entertain the idea that this mother may not love her child by use of medications. I am a mom of an extra needs child and nothing is more frustrating than advocating for your child and someone who is uneducated, spewing advice. The education doesn’t come in hours or days, nor on Google or Bing…but with time, trial and error, and a team of professionals.

  • tilly

    it’s not worth arguing with Ms. Best. she is oblivious and can only hear herself speak. Medicinal marijuana would be much safer than any “drug” made artificially. Why would you deny someone something that has been proven and is totally natural. Ms. Best i only hope that you never get ill and need to use it.

  • Nancy Stevens- Carson

    Thank you for going to the news. I have been calling and trying to get medicall cannabis up for a vote and getting it meically legal . My son and Daughter both have seizures and yet there seizures and are not contolled . . Every person is different and how they react to the mediucations are different. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about and pray for everyone dealing with Epilepsy . Addie you need to educate your self about Epilpesy. I look up ever drug and vitamins ,before I even give to my children , To make sure they are safe to take together . And yes some of the drugs together can cause side effects, more so when they have the same side effect. My two children have not had the same, side effects with some of the drugs . I have watched my childs seizures get worse on benzo’s and they were stopped right away. Not every Doctor treats the same and not all parents, feel the same about these drugs and surgery’s . And like my kids not everyone can have surgery to try and stop the seizures.Know one has the right to judge . I pray every day that Virgina will allow us to use medical cannabis. It is a plant that was put on earth by god . And as for side effects and the not knowing . We don’t know all the side effects of the drugs approved by the FDA and people die every day from Epilepsy and from drugs approved by the fda .

  • Mary W

    I do believe Addie was speaker out of concern
    We all know mixing meds is not advisable.
    I think that we could all have better results if we
    pull together and stop trying to attack each other.

  • Art DeMario

    First off there is ill perception that marijuana should be illegal when the fact is because its illegal it draws curiosity to young people. If you travel to the Netherlands you’ll find that the majority of people that live there can either take it or leave it. I have always believed that tobacco and alcohol are the true addictive gateway drugs, if there is even such a thing.
    This poor girl and her family are desperate for some relief. They are not interested in getting thier daughter high. They have spent too many sleepless nights trying, praying and researching everything. There is virtually nothing they haven’t already tried, read, researched or thought of. Kudos to them for be bold enough to try anything that may help thier daughter.
    They shouldn’t need to wait for the government to say its ok. They are responsible parents. If it works, they desperately, legally & legitimately need to use it – now. If it doesn’t work, I personally guarantee they’ll stop.

    Government and others need to step aside and allow people to do what’s best for themselves – especially in emergencies like this one where “Time Is Of The Essence”!

Comments are closed.