FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - A southeastern Kentucky mother's tearful testimony brought sympathy from a Kentucky Senate committee, which, for the first time in memory, approved a bill allowing cannabis oil for medical uses.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Julie Denton, R-Louisville, would allow University of Louisville and University of Kentucky hospitals to treat epilepsy patients with the oil. Denton has said cannabis oil has very low levels of THC, the chemical in marijuana.
Only one senator voted against the bill as it passed out of committee Wednesday.
The mother who testified, Rita Wooten, of Hyden, told lawmakers she needs cannabis oil to treat her young son, who has severe epilepsy.
"We're not looking for sympathy or even empathy," she said. "We're looking for help, and that's where we come to you all. It's your decision as far as what my son gets for treatment."
Wooten said she and her husband were considering moving to Colorado, where the treatment is legal.
In response, Denton suggested that Wooten ignore Kentucky law and obtain cannabis oil.
"I don't know that I've ever suggested anything that isn't legal, but I know as a parent, I'd be doing whatever it took," said Denton, whose own daughter once suffered from seizures.
Sen. Julian Carroll, D-Frankfort, went further, telling Wooten that he would represent her if she were charged with a crime.
"Get your airplane tickets bought so you can go wherever you can get this cannabis oil," he said. "By the time you get back it will probably will be (legal.) If it isn't and you get in trouble, please call me."
"My name is Julian Carroll, I'm an attorney. I'll represent you, or I'll get someone to represent you so you'll won't get in trouble."
Kentucky State Police have endorsed the bill because it would limit cannabis oil use to research hospitals.
Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo and Republican Senate President Robert Stivers, who combined have decades of experience in state politics, couldn't remember a time when a legislative committee had approved a marijuana-related bill for medical purposes.