Measure would expand medical marijuana to terminally ill patients

DOVER –– Building upon the established Delaware Medical Marijuana Act, a bipartisan group of legislators introduced a measure Thursday that would expand the use of medical marijuana to patients with terminal illnesses.

Sponsored by Rep. Paul Baumbach, D-Newark, House Bill 400 would expand upon Senate Bill 90, known as “Rylie’s Law,” by classifying pain, anxiety, or depression, if related to a terminal illness, as a qualifying condition in the Delaware Medical Marijuana Act for patients under the age 18, who will still be restricted to using cannabidiol (CBD) and oil products. The bill also classifies terminal illness in adults as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana.

“As Delaware’s compassion center has gotten up and running and we’ve seen that the medical marijuana process is working, it is imperative that we constantly re-evaluate the law to ensure that Delawareans who need access to this medication can receive it,” said Rep. Baumbach. “By adding terminal illness as a qualifying condition, we are doing just that. With each passing year, we are seeing more data on the benefits of medical marijuana, which is helping to de-stigmatize the medication. Delawareans facing a terminal illness should be able to access medical marijuana to help ease their symptoms and to cope with an extremely difficult situation.”

Under HB 400, “terminal illness” would be defined as any disease, illness or condition sustained by any person that is deemed fatal within a year regardless of any other medical treatment.

HB 400, known as “Bob’s Bill,” was inspired in part by Newark resident Rich Jester, whose father Robert “Bob” Jester passed away from terminal lung cancer earlier this year.

“My father used medical cannabis oil without his doctor’s consent to treat nausea, constipation, lack of appetite, insomnia, chronic pain and anxiety. When his oncologist found out that he was using cannabis oil, the doctor threatened to discontinue treatment, and Bob never tried medical cannabis again until he passed in January,” Mr. Jester said. “I believe that terminal illness should be a qualifying condition for medical marijuana in Delaware.

“This is called Bob’s Bill to honor the father who taught me that unless someone like me cares a whole lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not. If Bob’s Bill can improve the lives of one patient or one family, then everything my family endured will not have been in vain.”

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