Eyewitness News Special Report: What About CBD?

Oil extracted from the hemp plant also known as CBD oil has captured the attention of people everywhere. 

"There are actual proven cases that show beyond dispute that this works," said State Senator Jim Tomes.

The product, commonly confused for marijuana is oil extracted from the hemp plant. It has no psychoactive effect and very little to no THC, the chemical that causes the high in marijuana.

So how does this controversial product help children with epilepsy?

Eyewitness news reached out to physicians and doctors throughout the tri-state and could not find one to speak on the subject.

However, we did find Dr. Tom Vidic, a South Bend Indiana neurologist who the Indiana State Medical Association says is an expert on the subject.

"For a type of epilepsy," said Vidic, "being neonatal childhood epilepsy there has been some signals that CBD, refined CBD oil may have a role in seizure control ...So there is the potential that this is one more drug in our armamentarium to use to treat patients why does it work that i don't understand."

Indiana State Senator Jim Tomes of Wadesville heard the cries from families with children who have treatment-resistant epilepsy and wanted to try CBD oil but legally couldn't.

"I did some research and it looked to me like it was a very worth while effort to try and accomplish," said Tomes. "So I introduced the bill three years ago and I didn't realize I was going to meet such resistance but there was, I couldn't get a hearing on the bill."

Every year Senator Tomes continued to advocate for the legislation, bringing families like the Mershon's to Indianapolis to testify. 

Six year old Jameson Mershon suffers from epilepsy and his mother Miriah began giving him CBD oil for treatment back in 2014.

"We immediately saw great results," said Miriah Mershon, "we saw improvements in his coordination in his balance in his attention span he stopped having seizures all together."

But since CBD oil is still listed federally in the same category as marijuana, it was not legal. Miriah stopped giving the oil to Jameson out of fear the state's child protective services would be called.

"Almost immediately he returned to his prior state," said Mershon, "having seizures more often."

Their story played a key role in the passage of Indiana State House Bill 1148. That bill passed in July of 2017 and made it legal for children who have treatment-resistant epilepsy to use CBD oil.

"After the passage of the bill in July, Jameson registered for his CBD card and is seizure free," said Mershon.

But not everyone was in support of the legislation, State Senator Aaron Freeman opposed the bill and told Eyewitness News that he believes it is a federal problem and more research needs to be done, which is something Dr. Vidic agrees with. 

"I think it is important that we get more information," said Vidic, "and we vet this accurately to find out exactly what the capabilities are and the risk benefits."

But is it legal for anyone in Indiana to use?

There have been conflicting interpretations of state law, but stores that sell it and State Excise Police say the substance is legal as long as the product has .03% or less THC.

Also, State Excise Police told Eyewitness News it will not be confiscating CBD oil from stores.

Senator Tomes says he hopes to expand his legislation to continue to help others.

"I am not going to back away from it," said Tomes, "and if there is something we can do this legislative session to try to bring in other illnesses other cases where people are dealing with this that we're not in the initial category we want to include them."

If you are interested in knowing more about CBD, Adele's Naturally will be hosting CBD oil expert John Hendrix at the University of Evansville next week on November 9th at 7 pm.

The event is free and open to the public to RSVP contact Adele's naturally.

(This story was originally published November 1st 2017)

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