A bipartisan bill to legalize medical marijuana has been introduced at the Capitol, and parents across the mid-state are weighing in.
Latrisha Bentch of Swatara Township believes it could help her 5-year-old daughter Anna, who has epilepsy. She is taking several powerful anticonvulsants, but she is still having seizures every day.
"She has them in clusters. Sometimes she has five. Sometimes she has 45," said Latrisha.
Anna has head drop seizures, and each episode can leave scar tissue on her brain, which can lead to memory loss. Anna's parents say their daughter is slipping away.
"She loved to sing and dance. Now you ask her to sing a song, and she stares off into space. She cannot remember her words. She cannot remember her letters," said Robert Myers, Anna's father.
"I think medical marijuana could help her. It is already helping other kids in states where it is legal." said Bentch.
Twenty states in the country have legalized medical marijuana, including Colorado. Charlotte Figi was the state's first child to be given medical marijuana to treat epileptic seizures. She went from having seizures everyday and lying in a catatonic state to dancing, singing and feeding herself.
Charlotte's mother, Paige, recently traveled to Pennsylvania to attend a medical marijuana rally at the state Capitol and talk to lawmakers about her daughter's success with medical marijuana.
"We are a huge success story. We have seen over 99 percent seizure reduction, and she is no longer on any pharmaceuticals," said Paige.
The medical marijuana given to Charlotte was derived from a special cannabis plant that is low in THC and high in cannabidiols, or CBD. It was grown by the Stanley brothers, who also founded the Realm of Caring, a nonprofit group that helps distribute medical marijuana to children in need.
"We have bred a plant high in cannabidiols, the non psychoactive portion of the plant, so number these children are not getting high," said Josh Stanley.
Pediatric medical marijuana is not smoked. It is given in an oil, syrup or tablet form.
Anna's parents say they should have to choice to give their daughter medical marijuana.
"You are supposed to take care of them and help make things better for them. Right now our hands are tied, and we can't give her what she needs," said Myers.
"It is going to get passed. I am not going to stop fighting for it," said Bentch.