Lolly Bentch Myers: My daughter needs medical cannabis

You don’t know me, but I hope you’ll take a moment to learn more about my daughter, Anna.

When Anna was born, she was a healthy 9 lbs, 10 oz. For the first two years of her life, she was like any other healthy toddler — full of laughter and curiosity about the world around her. She was really bright, had an incredible vocabulary, and loved to recite her ABCs.

But then on the day of Anna’s second birthday, something took our delightful little girl away.

Anna started behaving very strangely. She became angry and didn’t like being around people. She couldn’t remember her ABCs. She threw uncontrollable tantrums.

After countless visits to numerous doctors, she was initially diagnosed with Autism. Shortly thereafter, she was diagnosed with Mesial Temporal Sclerosis, which caused cognitive delays, intellectual deficit, sleep disorder, anxiety, and intractable epilepsy.

At her worst, Anna was experiencing more than 100 seizures every day.

Over the past several years, we’ve taken her to specialists at Hershey Medical Center, Johns Hopkins, and the University of Pittsburgh. We’ve tried at least ten different pharmaceutical drugs and tried special diets — nothing has worked.

But there is one form of medicine that gives our family hope for Anna: Medical cannabis.

In Pennsylvania, that means my family has to make a choice between breaking the law or not getting our daughter the medicine she needs. No family should have to make that choice.

Thankfully, Governor Tom Wolf agrees and supports medical cannabis. Tom has always been in our corner and he has been fighting to give more than just hope to families like mine — he wants to make cannabis legal for the medical treatment of illnesses and diseases.

Next week, the Legislature will vote on medical cannabis and I hope you’ll join me in signing Governor Wolf’s petition to urge passage of Senate Bill 3.

Since Anna’s diagnosis, many people have asked why I don’t just move to one of the 23 states where medical cannabis is legal, such as: California, Colorado, or Washington. I love Pennsylvania and this is where Anna’s siblings, grandparents, her aunts, uncles, and friends live. These are more than just family and friends — they are our support system.

No family should ever have to move to get the medicine a loved one needs.

I love my daughter and I embrace the challenges facing our family, but I will never be okay knowing my only option to give her the treatment she needs are to break the law or move.

That’s why passing Senate Bill 3 and legalizing medical cannabis is so important. Please stand with Governor Wolf and families like mine before next week’s vote — sign the petition.

Thank you.