• Corbett backs marijuana extract to treat children; Mom talks about fight to improve daughter's life

    Updated:

    HARRISBURG, Pa. - Gov. Tom Corbett is changing his position on medical marijuana and is backing the legalization of a marijuana extract to treat severe seizures in children.

    Corbett's office confirmed Thursday that the Republican governor is meeting with several parents to tell them about his decision.

    Corbett had been under pressure from parents who believe the oil extract, called cannabidiol, can save the lives of their seizure-wracked children.

    “I have heard the concerns and heartbreaking stories of these families and want to help.  We must address this issue in a way that helps these families but also protects the public health and safety of all Pennsylvanians,” Corbett said in a statement.

    Democrats running to challenge Corbett in the fall election also favor the legalization of medical marijuana.

    Corbett spokesman Jay Pagni said the governor's plan will need approval from the Legislature. He said cannabidiol would be dispensed by research-based hospitals with medical professionals who are experienced in treating children with severe seizure disorders.

    On Thursday night, Channel 11 reporter Pamela Osborne visited a Beechview girl who suffers from a seizure condition.

    Antania Hawkins, 9, has several seizures a day.

    “They can be anywhere from five to 10 minutes to hours to days,” said her mother, Jessica Hawkins.

    Jessica Hawkins, said her daughter has tried all sorts of medical treatments and nothing has helped.  She’s hoping medical marijuana could be the difference in her daughter’s life.

    “A normal feeling as a parent and as a human is to save a child’s life,” said Jessica Hawkins.

    The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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