Wyoming Pushing Forward On 'Right To Try' Bill For Terminal Patients

By McCarton Ackerman 01/28/15

Wyoming is pushing forward with a groundbreaking law that could benefit terminally ill patients.

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Wyoming is well on its way to passing a groundbreaking law after the state’s Senate Committee approved a “Right to try” drug bill for terminally ill patients.

The Senate’s Labor, Health and Social Services Committee approved the bill, but it now must pass two more votes in the Senate in order to advance to the House of Representatives. The bill allows terminally ill patients the right to try experimental drugs that haven’t been approved by the FDA for general use, in addition to ones which have been approved by any nation in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which includes the U.K., France and Japan.

“With the slowness of the FDA, it is relatively common for a drug to be approved abroad before it’s approved here,” said Committee Chairman Sen. Charles Scott (R-Casper). “I know one of the drugs I took for diabetes for years was available in Europe for some time before it was available here.”

Amendments to the bill have also been approved that address which drugs will be covered, in addition to removing language that prohibits actions against physicians by the Board of Medicine for recommending such experimental treatments. However, the latter portion of the amendment reportedly failed.

Of course, not all states are this progressive when it comes to treatment. A terminally ill Iowa man barely dodged prison time last September when a judge sentenced him to three years of probation for growing marijuana for personal use. Benton Mackenzie, 48, was arrested along his wife and adult son on identical charges. He could have faced 15 years behind bars, but the judge showed mercy based on his poor health.

Mackenzie suffers from angiosarcoma, a rare form of cancer that has left tumors on his body. He has been confined to a wheelchair because the tumors are so severe, but told the court that cannabis oil is the only treatment that has worked for him.

“I have lasted seven years on a disease that takes people who don’t get treated in two years. And people who go through traditional methods, they last three years. I have proven the decision I made was the right one, to save my life,” he told the court. “I hope this…brings some sanity to lawmakers’ decision-making process. I hope I am the last person who has to go through this.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.