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Medical marijuana forum draws supporters, opponents in Harrisburg

Updated: Tuesday, October 1 2013, 02:45 AM CDT
Reported by: James Tully 

HARRISBURG -- Players from both sides of the aisle were in Harrisburg Monday night contributing to an open forum about legalizing marijuana in Pennsylvania. The event was held at the Midtown Scholar Bookstore and hosted by the non-profit organization Harrisburg HOPE.

State Rep. Mark Cohen, D-202, drove in from Philadelphia. Cohen's presence was crucial because he is behind a bill that would legalize medical marijuana. That bill remains stuck in committee, but Cohen remains confident it will eventually become law.

A coalition of local parents are hoping Cohen is right. A group called "PA Parents for Legalizing Medical Marijuana" was well represented at the forum. All of these parents have children who suffer from seizures, and in many cases, it's quite severe.

Mark Myers told CBS 21 his daughter can have as many as 95 seizures per day. Myers never thought he'd be pushing for her to be administered medicinal marijuana, but that was before he learned that it could help.

In early September, CBS 21 sat down with Louann Speese-Stanley, whose daughter also suffers from seizures. Speese-Stanley has become an advocate for medical marijuana as well. (Click HERE to read that story.)

Speese-Stanley and Myers both discovered a case in Colorado where a young girl was successfully treated for seizures with an active ingredient found in the marijuana plant.

"I just want this to pass, because I want my daughter to have more of a normal life," Myers says.

Cohen was opposed on the forum by Sen. John Eichelberger, R-30, who simply doesn't believe legalizing marijuana, even for medicinal purposes, is a good idea.

"Over 10,000 studies say that marijuana is not a good thing to use and every national medical association that there is doesn’t authorize it for medicinal purposes," Eichelberger said.

The night's most unexpected comments might have come from Dauphin County Coroner Graham Hetrick, who said he supports Cohen's bill to legalize medical marijuana.

Hetrick believes that the government has overstepped its boundaries with people's choices, and that people should have a choice in this matter.

"In this case if I had a child and that child was having those seizures and I had to break the law to save my child that’s exactly what I would do," Hetrick said.Medical marijuana forum draws supporters, opponents in Harrisburg

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