There’s nothing heartwarming or gratifying about the news Idaho is about to enroll up to 25 children with intractable epilepsy in a government program to test an experimental pharmaceutical product. Indeed, the drug treatment violates every principle of conservative governance.
Other states have cheerfully agreed to allow parents to use cannabidiol oil derived from a marijuana plant to treat children suffering from otherwise untreatable epileptic seizures. The oil contains only trace amounts of the chemical that causes people to get high—amounts so small that a person could consume barrels of the oil without feeling any deleterious effects. Still, the oil has demonstrated results. It keeps seizures at bay, and that has been a blessing to families whose kids have been otherwise ravaged by the illness.
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Gov. Butch Otter vetoed legislation that would have allowed the oil in Idaho, listening instead to the overboard fear-mongering statements of liberal lawmakers like Republican Rep. Luke Malek, the Office of Drug Policy and Idaho State Police who purported that signing the bill would open the marijuana floodgates. Instead, the governor signed a ham-fisted executive order authorizing a state-funded pharmaceutical trial for some families.
While a pilot program featuring 25 children may seem like a big deal, remember there are an estimated 1,500 children in Idaho at risk of a potentially fatal seizure. The remaining 98 percent of kids will do without. Kids and their parents who do want to participate in the government-sponsored program will have to jump through a series of hoops just to be eligible.
Idaho could have allowed parents to exercise parental rights. It could have allowed parents to exercise personal responsibility. It could have allowed parents to pay for treatment options on their own. And it could have allowed disease treatment to be a decision for parents and their child’s doctor. All of those would have been consistent with all manners of conservative governance.
Instead, Idaho opted for a typical Big Government response. Parents won’t be allowed to exercise parental rights for their children. They won’t be allowed personal responsibility to determine their own medical course for their own kids. Taxpayers of the state will be on the hook for the cost of the experimental treatment, and government officials and bureaucrats have a sizable part of deciding who gets help and who doesn’t.
The parents of children with potentially deadly epileptic seizures didn’t ask for anything of their government officials except for the right to try something that appears to be working. They didn’t ask for the state to pay for treatment. They didn’t ask the state Department of Health and Welfare to hold their hands or sit with them in the doctors’ waiting rooms. All they wanted was the freedom to choose the medical option they believed was best for them, and for the state to remove the barriers to that option. Instead, they got a politically-motivated response intended to make politicians look good, rather than really help people who are searching for unfettered access to a promising medicine.