DUBUQUE, Iowa - As Verona Bedtka prepares for a weekend benefit for her daughter, she learns the news she’s been waiting to hear. Governor Terry Branstad has signed a bill into law that allows the use of cannabis oil to treat severe epilepsy.
“I am extremely excited. Now we are just hoping that we can get our hands on it, sooner than later,“ Bedtka said.
Her daughter 10-month-old Aby Bedtka suffers from Mitochondrial Disease and experiences seizures several times a day. The oil can reduce the severity of epileptic seizures and improves other symptoms of the disease.
The governor’s signature today also means on July 1, a form of medical marijuana will be legal here in Iowa. The cannabis bill took a while to get through the legislature this year. Many lawmakers thought legalizing any form of marijuana would send the wrong message. Cannabis oil comes from marijuana, but it can’t be smoked. And the user can’t get high from it.
Bedtka isn’t able to eat on her own, so her mother plans to put pure cannabis oil directly in her feeding tube. She hopes the oil will stop Aby’s chronic seizures, but it’s not that easy.
“Honestly there’s no place we can get it in the state of Iowa,” said Verona Betka said.
The family would likely need to drive to Colorado to legally purchase the oil. A trip they’re happy to make, but Verona says it still doesn’t solve the family’s long-term troubles. She says they need immediate access to a hospital that specializes in Aby’s condition.
“We’re still moving. It’s inevitable,” said Verona Bedtka. “I mean I can’t keep her at a hospital where MedFlight has to be on standby for her.”
And while the family doesn’t know what the future holds. There’s one thing this mother knows for sure.
“I just want her to be loved, to have love. I want her to know that nothing will change the way we feel about her,” Bedtka said. On Saturday May 31, all of Aby’s loved ones will gather for a benefit in her honor. That’s at Courtside Bar in Dubuque, 2 p.m. to 8p.m.
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