MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WHNT) – Carly's Law passed the Alabama Senate on a 34-0 vote Tuesday.
The sponsors of the bill that would legalize a new treatment method for children with serious neurological and epileptic disorders, known as Carly’s Law, announced a breakthrough development Tuesday.
Senator Paul Sanford, and Representatives Mike Ball and Allen Farley said they have worked to develop a partnership with researchers in the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Department of Neurology to study cannabidiol, or CBD oil. The treatment would be available through the University to individuals diagnosed with severe epilepsy and neurological disorders that lead to serious and life-threatening seizures.
In addition to establishing the medical study with the UAB Department of Neurology, the revised version of the bill establishes the Department as the only entity authorized to prescribe or treat individuals with epileptic conditions using CBD.
The bill is named for Carly, a girl from Pelham, Alabama who suffers from severe seizures. Her family believes the cannabis oil will help Carly's condition.
Rep. Ball is sponsoring the legislation and talked with us at length last week about why this has become such a personal issue for him.
David Standaert, M.D., chair of the Department of Neurology says UAB maintains a leading role in safeguarding the public health of the residents of Alabama through a special responsibility to provide access to cutting edge treatments and therapies that are not available elsewhere, and that UAB will continue to work in partnership with other neurologists across the state to provide the best possible medical care for all Alabamians.
“There is growing evidence from a number of scientific studies that cannabidiol is an effective treatment to control epilepsy and other neurological disorders that produce serious, debilitating, or life-threatening seizures,” Standaert said.
"In some cases, seizures can be controlled with other medications, and some patients are candidates for curative surgery, but there are still cases that are difficult to control by any existing therapy. UAB will undertake research into the mechanisms underlying cannabidiol to learn more about its function and effect on seizures. This research will be invaluable in the search for ways to prevent seizures, or minimize their effects," Standaert added.
Senator Paul Sanford, the bill’s Senate sponsor, said the latest development will ensure much-needed access to the drug in a way that contributes to the long-term study of its effectiveness.
“I see this as a win-win for both those who desperately need a better way to treat debilitating seizures and the medical community who can gain valuable insight through further study of the drug,” Sanford said.
Lawmakers plan to fund the study through a $1 million appropriation in the Education Trust Fund budget to UAB’s Department of Neurology.
Representative Mike Ball, the bill’s House sponsor, emphasized the incredible impact the strengthened bill will have on Alabama children. “I’m proud to play even a small part in bringing relief and comfort to a group of Alabamians that can’t speak for themselves. Regardless of whether this research helps one child or hundreds of children we are giving Alabama families a chance at a better future.
Carly's Law passed a procedural Alabama Senate vote 29-0 on Tuesday evening, according to Rep. Ball.
More votes on the bill are to come.
We'll continue to keep you updated on WHNT News 19, on WHNT.com and on social media.
Here's more information on the Carly's Law Facebook page.