Dear Honorable Members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly,
I am a life-long, tax paying, resident of Pennsylvania. I am a Penn State graduate. I am an newly elected Election Official. My Slagle ancestors have lived in Pennsylvania since 1747, before this state was a state, before this was a nation. I love Pennsylvania. Thirteen generations of Slagles have loved Pennsylvania. I don’t want to leave. I don’t want to be a medical refugee or a criminal. I just want to have less seizures.
I am an epileptic. I have Intractable Temporal Lobe Epilepsy. I have had seizures my entire life and it’s not going to get better. I have simple partial, complex partial, absence and “Grand Mal” Tonic Clonic convulsive seizures. My seizures are not controlled. I might have had a seizure today. I’m not quite sure. Sometimes I wake up on the floor and I know I’ve had a bad one. Sometimes I just wonder, did I just lose a second there? I have them more than I can even realize. That’s the tricky thing about altered consciousness. I don’t even know that I’ve lost time. Today was one of those days. Now I have a headache, so there’s evidence that I had a seizure. I’m always glad just to have a day when I don’t throw up on myself during a seizure. Or fall down and give myself a concussion. Both things have happened to me, many times.
I didn’t believe cannabis could cure epilepsy. I don’t believe anything can cure epilepsy. I thought cannabis could make me feel better, but that it wouldn’t completely stop my seizures. Then I heard about Charlotte Figi. She was having dozens or hundreds of seizures a day and my heart broke. Her poor little body. I’m not sure if anybody can even comprehend that pain. Seizures HURT! But Charlotte started taking a Cannabidiol oil and has gone down to 1 or 2 seizures a week. That is a huge deal. HUGE. I cried. For her improvement and for myself and all the other people who would be denied this treatment based geographical circumstance. The treatment Charlotte received was so clearly working miracles. MIRACLES. Learning about Charlotte’s Web offered me a feeling of hope that I haven’t had in many, many years. Perhaps not since 1997 when I was first diagnosed and was told I would always have seizures; I would always be on medication; I would always suffer from the side effects that make me sick and dizzy and tired and unable to see straight for hours everyday.
I have tried dozens of medicines which have all ultimately come up short. I take poisonous meds twice a day to only partial success. I have several seizures every month. I can’t drive and I can’t work. I’m sick everyday. I live on the edge of danger everyday. At any second I could lose consciousness and scream and fall down and vomit. I can’t control it. I would do anything to make it better. My doctor considers brain surgery the next treatment option. She is reluctant to try any additional pharmaceuticals. I don’t want to crack open my skull and remove a piece of my brain.
There is another treatment accepted and recommended by the former US Surgeon General Sanjay Gupta. He believes that cannabis can help seizures. Why can’t I try that first?! Why can’t all epileptics try this? I function under my own 1% philosophy. If I feel 1% better, if I have 1% less seizures, that’s a success! 1% better is still better. One less second lost is worth so much. Any single one less seizure is a blessing, a great accomplishment. “Any society, any nation, is judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members — the last, the least, the littlest.” Disabled children are certainly the least of us, the most precious and unable to protect themselves. Why are desperately sick children allowed to have 300 seizures a week and yet we withhold a viable course of treatment? Cannabidiol offers a real hope to the 3 million Americans suffering with seizures.
Nearly half the country has already allowed their citizens access to a safe and natural medicine. 80% of Pennsylvania voters approve of medicinal cannabis. It’s time that Pennsylvania joins the movement. Right now our General Assembly has bills in both the Senate and the House of Representatives to allow the medicinal use of cannabis. (Governor Raymond Shafer Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act SB 1182 and HB 1181) Please represent me and all Pennsylvanians. We just want to have less seizures and more time in our lives. We need it now. People die from seizures everyday. 50,000 epileptics die every year. I don’t want to be one. These bills can save lives.
There is medical evidence. There is science. There are children having less seizures right now in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. But not in Pennsylvania.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has stated that his state will be the next. Legislation to legalize medicinal cannabis is also pending in Florida, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and West Virginia. I don’t want to live in any of those other states. Not even New York which is less than 20 miles away from my home.
Pennsylvania holds the bones of my ancestors and is the birthplace of my children. Please let me stay. I can’t move my family to California or Colorado or even New Jersey; but I absolutely could find a place in Ripley, New York, just across the border. I could sell my house and forever leave the Commonwealth. I would only be a few more miles away from my family. My husband could still drive to work everyday. But I don’t want to. I love Pennsylvania. We should not have to move to get treatment. Don’t make me into a criminal for wanting to have less seizures.
Please make the right decision for the children, for me, and for all sick Pennsylvanians who simply want to feel better. Please support and vote yes on SB 1182 and HB 1181. Please give us medicine. Thank you.
Kathryn Amanda Slagle