Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Senator Mike Folmer and Campaign for Compassion Ambassador, Angela Ferro, on MSNBC

Senator Mike Folmer and one of our own Ambassadors, Angela Ferro, whose son is one of the many who need medical cannabis legalized in Pennsylvania, had the opportunity to be guests on Taking the Hill with Patrick Murphy on MSNBC. We are grateful for the opportunity they had to educate even more people on the positive effects of medical cannabis and the work we are doing to bring about this life-changing medicine to the Commonwealth!


What is a CannaGram?

can-na-gram: [n. kan-uh-gram]
 1. a form of communication used to educate, advocate and support the use of medical cannabis. The name “CannaGram” is actually a play on words coined by “Anna’s Gram” Debby Bentch. And, of course, the name also combines CANNAbis and teleGRAM. As indicated at the bottom, each CannaGram honors or brings to mind a particular person or group of people.

Brought to you by Julie Michaels

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Hope on the Horizon November 4th

Caring for a loved one with a chronic and debilitating illness is an extremely difficult path to go down. All of your time and attention is focused on keeping them alive. Unfortunately, on top of that over the past year we have had to lobby legislators including Governor Corbett to allow our children, parents, siblings, and grandparents compassionate use of medical cannabis. Instead of Governor Corbett sensing the urgent need for safe access and expediting Senate Bill 1182 there were numerous road blocks along the way. Sadly, as this session comes to a close we can only stand by and watch the bill, that held the sole hope for so many, die in the House judiciary committee. Some caregivers have been tirelessly working for safe access since Governor Corbett first took office, and we believe four years is too long to wait on someone's compassion. We are exhausted, but we would never dream of giving up. We do not know what each day will bring or how our loved ones disease will progress, and we did not think there would be a light at the end of the tunnel. 

Fortunately, Tom Wolf agreed to meet with many of the families seeking safe access, and he concurred there is no time to waste in regards to getting a medical cannabis program established here in Pennsylvania. As early into the race as March he said "On medical marijuana, what is motivating me is people I know with children with diseases that could be treated with medical marijuana. My goal is to create a system where they don’t feel like they have to go to another state to make their child whole".

Thankfully Tom Wolf not only recognizes the urgency of this for all patients, but also the potential of medical cannabis to end suffering for so many. What he may not realize is how he has become a beacon of light and hope for these families. We cannot thank him enough for sitting down with multiple members of our group and listening to us and promising to work quickly on establishing a medical cannabis program. Campaign for Compassion could not be more proud to join the long list of supporters for Tom Wolf for Governor. We are not only counting on him, but you as well. We need everyone who reads this to get out to the polls on November 4th and vote him in as our next Governor for all of the Pennsylvanians suffering every day. We are confident Tom Wolf will do what is right for all the sick and suffering and what is right for Pennsylvania. As the Harrisburg newspaper said in their endorsement, "Pennsylvania needs a leader who will pursue opportunity for all, and that leader is Tom Wolf".

Monday, October 20, 2014

"It's just politics, I guess."


"She lost her smile," Julie Michaels recounts the days after her daughter, Sydney, began having seizures. Sydney, now 5, has been on numerous medications all in an effort to curb the hundreds of seizures she experiences each day. Julie was instrumental in gathering fellow parents in PA to help lobby for what could possibly be the only medicine left for their very ill children. Please watch this short documentary, from the Herald Standard, chronicling the Michaels Family's journey to legalize Medical Cannabis in PA.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

I Shouldn't Have to Break the Law


Jessie Truitt is one of our courageous veterans who served in the military for six years. During that time, she endured traumatic events, which led to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a condition that plagues many of our veterans. Jessie and our other veterans would benefit greatly from Medical Cannabis, but because it is still illegal, it is not an option. We implore you to continue to research this viable option for our veterans and the many patients in Pennsylvania whose lives would drastically improve from the use of this medicine. Tell your legislatures that you want them to support SB1182 for your family, for your friends and for our veterans like Jessie.

Monday, September 29, 2014

This Too Shall Pass

It has taken us a few days here to process what happened last week. Our bill, our precious bill that we have watched as it made its journey through the Senate was picked apart, sections of it left almost unrecognizable. The Compassionate Use of Cannabis Act, or SB1182, sponsored primarily by our heroes, Mike Folmer and Daylin Leach, upon being voted out of the Appropriations committee, was amended, leaving out roughly 35 qualifications and prohibiting now, not only smoking, but vaporization as a delivery method as well. 


We have heard a lot from legislators that they do not want to be involved in our medical care. Some would argue that as soon as a handful of officials decided which types of ailments will be excluded from this bill, that they took it upon themselves to play doctor. Now to be clear, there is a provision in SB1182 that states patients can petition to the board overseeing the program in PA to have their specific condition added. We cannot help but wonder though, how many patients will have the strength to jump through these hoops, when they can barely gather the strength to make it out of bed some days?

Make no mistake, however, the Senate vote (43-7) was still something to celebrate. We have been told from day 1 that it could take 5 years to get this legislation passed. The fact that it not only passed, but passed with overwhelming support, was cheer worthy. As many of us sat in the gallery, quiet as church mice, listening to the aye’s and nay’s, adrenaline swelled in us, tears flowed, and alas, when the floor moderator announced the passage, 43 compassionate Senators received a standing ovation from the crowd above. We would like to think that may have been a first.

It is hard to know how to move forward from here. The great thing is, we do not have to know. There are too many variables at play for us to know exactly how to proceed. Realistically, it is highly unlikely that this bill will reach Governor Corbett’s desk, at which time, he will finally get the chance to veto it, just as he seems to take pleasure in reminding us he will do. As Senator Lloyd Smucker proved, you can hold up the legislative process for an entire day just by introducing additional amendments. Given the fact that there are members of the House who are arguably misguided on the topic of medical Cannabis, we may not see much in the way of progress, but instead, deliberate stalling, by way of amendment proposals. And as it is, truthfully, we are working on borrowed time.

But this too shall pass. And what would we be doing differently if we could predict the outcome of this struggle? We are still going to wake up each morning ready to educate, ready to advocate. We will still be at the Capitol each week to shake the hands of our supporters and to drop off information to those we seek the support of. We will still be researching as we stay up night after night watching over our loved ones, putting our hands on their backs to make sure they are still breathing. And we will be doing this next session too. Whether or not this bill passes, we still have a lot of work to do. 

We can only hope and pray that more of our state’s public servants will rise to the occasion and take a stand for the many sick and suffering people they promised to represent. In the meantime, we must give our most sincere gratitude to the ones that already have. Our Senate did not just vote for a bill, they voted for lives to go on. The question is often asked: “What kind of message does this bill send to our youth?”

Make no mistake, the expedition of this bill sends a powerful message. Passing a compassionate use bill conveys to the public, more specifically to our youth, that you are invested in the health and well being of the people who have elected you. After all, a nations greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest member, especially the sick, the dying, and the disabled. By passing a compassionate use act you are upholding the dignity and value of ALL human life.

Pictures courtesy of Keystone Cannabis Coalition

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Rally at the Capital

On September 15th, supporters of SB1182, Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act, joined at the Capital steps to rally for the legislation. Currently this bill is in the Senate and we believe will pass easily. It will be up to the House to send it to Governor Corbett.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Another Open Door

On behalf of Campaign for Compassion we wanted to take a minute to thank Congressman Perry for his proposal this morning: calling on congress to remove therapeutic hemp oils from the Controlled Substances Act. We sincerely hope this measure helps many patients across the country, as time is not a luxury many of them have. 

With 23 states having Medical Marijuana programs passed and being implemented, many more states with pending legislation, and a federal bill now introduced, we are hopeful that this small step will reinforce the fact that cannabis IS indeed medicine and should be available to all in need. We pray that this measure will serve as an example to other members of congress and we anxiously await federal support for a more inclusive, well-rounded piece of legislation to be introduced

Congressman Perry was a House Representative in Pennsylvania before he moved on to his congressional seat. We like to think that our House members will follow the lead of their peer and support life-saving laws, such as SB1182, the Compassionate Use of Cannabis Act. We stand firm in our commitment to bring about passage of more comprehensive legislation in the Commonwealth via SB1182. Just as you would never build a house with only one door, patients and their doctors should have the option to choose from more than one strain of this life-saving medicine. SB1182 remains our hope, our drive and our inspiration. We look forward to the implementation of the Compassionate Use Act in Pennsylvania so that we have a myriad of strains to choose from according to each individual patient's need.

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Politics of Pot in Pennsylvania : A Mother's Response by Deena Kenney

Last Friday (June 27th), NY became the 23rd state to pass a bill for the medical use of marijuana. It’s a very limited bill. It’s limited to only patients with certain maladies all because the Governor wants it that way. 

Why does he feel he needs to pick and choose which patients will get possible relief and which ones will continue in their suffering? How did he choose which could get the treatment and which couldn’t? 

Does he think that a child with seizures is worth more than a soldier who wants to relieve the horrors of war that continuously run through his brain in a torturous loop? That is what he implies when he allows the child with seizures to qualify to receive medical marijuana, but ignores the soldier who suffers from PTSD. 

Is Governor Cuomo just plain cruel? I would hope not, but his actions make me question that.

As I live in Pennsylvania, we face a Governor with an even more limited stance and a governor that will not even meet with any families except two that he hand-picked while ignoring scores of others. I guess I should expect this kind of behavior from politicians. After all, they really don’t understand what it is that we are all going through. 

Some of them don’t even care. Their interests lie in other areas far away from the entangled history and propaganda that surround this plant. They do not feel comfortable being put in the position of having to decide medical issues, nor should they be! But, they are also the ones that put themselves in that position when they made it illegal 77 years ago!

The people who should be helping us make our medical decisions are our doctors. Where do they stand on this issue? 

Well, again, it depends on who you ask. It’s about as divisive a topic in the medical community as it is in the political arena. The Pennsylvania Medical Society headed by Dr. Bruce MacLeod announced that it does not support legalizing the compassionate use of marijuana for medical purposes in our state right now. He says that there is not enough research and that he is concerned with unknown long term safety issues. He even used an example that maybe it would help seizures but what if it caused, for example, cancer of the esophagus five years down the road. 

As the mother of a child with intractable epilepsy, I find this position to be very ill informed and insulting! Even a quick study would tell him that cannabis was sold as a medication for 90 years in this country! From 1850-1941, it was prescribed by doctors and regulated for safety and content by the FDA. It was even made by reputable pharmaceutical companies like Eli Lilly and Parke Davis!

Upon further study, he would find that there has been a lot of research done on this plant for the last 40 years. Most of it has been done in Israel by Dr. Mechoulam with his research being funded by American dollars through grants from the National Institutes of Health. The research is so promising in both safety and efficacy that even a British Pharmaceutical company is in clinical trials with a drug they made out of isolated compounds of this plant. Trust me, if the medical research was not solid, there is no way a pharmaceutical company would be putting millions of dollars into making a drug out of this herbal powerhouse. 

As for long term safety issues, I think 90 years of previous medical usage should point to the fact that it is safe. If that were not enough, patients in California have been using cannabis safely for 18 years now. Israel has been using medical cannabis successfully for many years in children and adults with no safety issues. There was a federal program in which several patients enrolled in from 1978- until the government closed it in 1991. Two of those original patients are still receiving cannabis every month from the U.S. Government. 

One of those patients, Irv Rosenfeld, testified at our recent Senate committee hearing about how , despite having a disease that makes him grow malignant tumors on his bones, smoking 7-8 cannabis cigarettes a day has kept him pain and tumor free for over 30 years now with no adverse effects.

Can the same long and short term safety standards be said for any of the 27 tried and failed pharmaceuticals my son has been on for seizures and behavior over the last 17 years? No!

These FDA approved medications have caused numerous problems in my son and many others. Side effects like mouth sores, immune suppression, agitation, aggressiveness, liver damage, hyperglycemia, hyperactivity, insomnia, hyperlipidemia, increased seizure activity, weight gain, psychosis and violent rage attacks have all occurred due to these “safe” and clinically tested medications. As for long term safety, most of the medications he has been on have never been tested long term. One that he had taken for 11 years is now found to damage the synapses in the brain with long term usage. 

I don’t bring any of this up to fault the pharmaceutical industry or any of my son’s physicians, merely to point out the hypocrisy of saying cannabis is dangerous when it does, in fact, have a better safety profile than most pharmaceuticals. 

So, in the end, really , what neither the doctors nor the politicians fully understand is this: we are not asking for your blessing, we are not out to just get high, we are not using this as a “trojan horse” to legalization, and we are not interested in your war on drugs! We are patients and parents of patients that want relief from the suffering that tortures us every day! Relief that has NOT been found from current pharmaceutical methods. Relief that has strong anecdotal proof to exist when using cannabis.
In short, we want our plant back! 

What God so freely put on this planet, you had no right to take away. Seventy – seven years ago, you took an effective herbal medicine from us and you did it without one single solitary shred of scientific evidence to back up your claims of its danger. As a matter of fact, I wonder if Dr. MacLeod is aware that the American Medical Association of 1937 fought hard to ensure that cannabis stayed available as a medicine or that the AMA considered it a very effective and safe treatment option for patients at that time (a time when the medical establishment was more beholden to the patient and healing rather than profits and pills). 

So you can do your research, and we encourage you to do so! But in the meantime, since that could take years, please don’t waste one more solitary second playing around with our lives. Years, months and weeks have passed while we have tried to educate you and ask for your compassion on this issue.

While you are counting the number of sessions you have left and what issues to vote or not vote on, we are out here writhing in chronic unrelenting pain, vomiting from chemo, and being tortured by horrible memories. We are counting the minutes our children are contorted in seizures. We are wiping the blood off of their heads from seizures that cause them to fall. We are desperately praying and watching the second hand on a clock while staring into their now blue faces begging God to let them breathe again. 

We are doing this all while watching our counterparts in legal states experiencing the healing and relief we can only dream of. 

Governor Corbett and esteemed members of the General Assembly, please do not let happen in Pennsylvania what is happening in other states! Please do not play God by doling out this much needed plant to some patients but not to others. Don’t restrict cannabinoids or delivery methods; to do so would, again, leave many people untreated. It would be the cruelest of fates to be the patient that can’t receive help because their disease didn’t “qualify”. With all due respect, you really don’t have the right to make that judgment call. 

We have an amazing bill with SB1182. It is inclusive, comprehensive and has incredible safety and security measures for plant, patient, and physician. It could become the gold standard model for other states to follow. Please pass this bill and allow us to use cannabis in a compassionate manner. The benefits clearly outweigh any risk to patient and/or society.


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Today is the day! Get those cards in the mail!

How Can You Help Fight for the Legalization of Medical Cannabis?

Postcard Mailing Campaign!

You are invited to join us in a national effort! The American people want cannabis removed from schedule 1 status. Let's make our voices heard by those who can make that happen! We want thousands and thousands of postcards to make it to the desks of Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama and we want them to arrive all on the same day!

Cannabis is an extremely useful medication and should be recognized as such. Doctors all over the US want to use cannabis to treat their patients and the government should not be getting in the way of that. Let doctors be doctors and give them every tool available to treat their patients.

Postcards are the easiest and cheapest way to get our message to those who can make this change. That being said, postcards will also allow your messages to be seen all along their route to their destinations. Many hands and eyes will fall upon your cards as they travel from all corners of the country.

Postcards can be made easily at Vistaprint, Walmart, CVS, or even from your own printers. Get your friends, family, coworkers, people you meet on the street, anyone who will participate, to get in on the action. Personalize a short message and make it count.

THIS PART IS KEY! They must ALL go in the mail on Tuesday July 1st! If they are all mailed on the same day, they will all arrive within a day or two of each other.

The addresses are below. Let's make some NOISE!

Attorney General Eric Holder
US Dept of Justice, 
950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, 
Washington, DC 20530-0001
President Barack Obama, 
The White House, 
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, 
Washington, DC 20500

For more information and to invite your friends, visit our Facebook invite!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Law & Justice Committee Approves Medical Marijuana Bill!

ABC27 VIDEO: Pa. committee approves medical marijuana bill

On Friday, June 27, history was made in Pennsylvania when the Law & Justice committee voted UNANIMOUSLY on Senate Bill 1182, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act.

The bill will now move quickly through the Senate Appropriations Committee and onto the Senate Floor, where we believe we have a veto-proof majority vote! 

Keep praying, keep pushing, keep calling, keep educating...the fight is not over...it's one battle at a time, but we know our forces are strong! Keep up the good work!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Demand Protection for State's Rights Concerning Medical Cannabis

Recently, the US House passed an amendment banning the DEA from using our tax dollars to interfere with states that have Medical Marijuana Programs. Our Senate will be voting next, however, we're unsure of when the vote will take place. We urge you to contact your US Senators NOW and let them know you expect them to protect their state from federal interference!

Call them, email them, or write a letter! Please take the time today to do your part as a concerned citizen of this country. 

 Go to www.senate.gov to find the contact info for your state's Senators.

Sample letter:

Dear U.S. Senator,

I write you today to urge you to pass the Paul/Booker amendment to the Commerce-Justice-Science spending bill which will prohibit the DOJ from using federal funds to interfere with state laws regarding the implementation of Medical Marijuana Programs. The amendment would not only save our government a substantial amount of money, but also protect the rights of each state to choose how to regulate Medical Cannabis without fear of the Federal Government's interference.

Sincerely, Concerned Citizen

For more information, visit our Facebook event!

Monday, June 9, 2014


~Some of the details in this testimony have been changed in order to protect this family.

 Have you ever seen the movie "Awakenings"? It’s based on a true story about a neurologist named Oliver Sacks who begins an experimental drug therapy on a group of patients who survived the 1917-1928 encephalitis lethargica epidemic only to be left in a catatonic state. I remember watching this movie in the early 90’s and I was absolutely intrigued by the idea of something bringing these people back to life. I find it ironic now that I’m watching this happen in real life with my own child.

Just a few months ago, I feared that I would lose my daughter to epilepsy. She was suffering from hundreds of seizures everyday. She was catatonic throughout most of the day. I only bothered sending her to school because I knew that she would be safe there and I could rest a little and possibly make up for the insomnia I had been having. If you don’t have a child who suffers from a life threatening condition, you may not understand how difficult it is to allow yourself to sleep at night. I called it “half sleep”... that place where you let your body relax but keep your mind going, just in case you hear them seizing and need to administer rescue meds.

My daughter, let's call her “Elizabeth”, had forgotten almost everything of importance. She would no longer recite her ABC’s or sing. At times, I wondered if she even knew who I was anymore. Her father could barely look at her without being brought to tears. I found myself comforting him almost as much as I comforted her. She lost the strength to feed herself and she now spent a great deal of time sleeping. Now remember, all of this had occurred in spite of treating her with the best of what Western medicine had to offer.

At some point, about 3 months ago, as a family, we decided to cast aside our fear of the law and begin treating Elizabeth with Cannabidiol Therapy. We had long since cast aside our respect for lawmakers, so it seemed appropriate to come to this. It didn’t take long to notice subtle changes in her behavior. I found her gazing at me at times and she’d maintain that gaze even after our eyes would lock. She began to smile again and giggle again. Her energy level rose and it seemed that the task of holding a fork was no longer cumbersome for her.

We weren’t seeing much in the way of seizure control, but I thought as long as we were seeing an improvement, we should continue. After all, when your child is in an almost coma-like state, just to hear them speak again sparks an amazing flicker of hope. Looking back, what we were noticing most was that she would recover so quickly from seizures. Remarkably, her postictal periods were shorter in duration with each passing day.

And then it happened. She had her last seizure on the evening of Mother’s Day. On Monday, when she went an entire day without even having one, I thought, “Wow! That’s never happened. How wonderful for her to have a seizure-free day!”. Then day 2 passed, then day 3, and so on. We’re now at day 23. I think she may have had 2 very small seizures in her sleep that first week. I could only tell because of a steady tapping of her left foot and an excessive amount of drool on her pillow. But even with those, she’s avoided having somewhere near five thousand seizures because we decided to become criminals.

I’m not suggesting for one moment that every parent of a sick child in PA should make this decision, but I’m sure glad I did. I think it’s important for me to tell this story because I know there are still members of our legislature who doubt the efficacy of this medicine. But, I must ask, when do these “anecdotal” reports just become reports? At what point will parents speaking lead to legislators listening? Will seeing these children awaken inspire our leaders to wake up themselves? How many more parents will be forced to break the law in order to avoid burying their children?

I am reminded each day of one of my favorite quotes. “If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so.” ~Thomas Jefferson