I have fought for a comprehensive medical cannabis program on behalf of my son and other Iowans. My son has a rare condition called UBE2A Deficiency Syndrome causing Epilepsy, Autism, Hypotonia, serious brain and organ malformations, the inability to speak and an intellectual disability. He has suffered immensely in his short life but because of medical cannabis oil he has been able to have one good year without debilitating and brain damaging seizures.
I began writing to our current Dallas County Representative Watts in 2015, telling him my son’s story and our need for access to medical cannabis within the state. He met my family, took us out for lunch and even told the radio here that my son’s story changed his mind on cannabis oil. At the beginning of the session he even voted yes in the Commerce Committee on a very narrow bill that would allow my son and other suffering Iowans access to treatment from Cannabis grown, tested and distributed in Iowa for Iowans, but the parents and patients fighting for this soon realized that the House Leadership was never going to allow that Bill to the House Floor. It’s easy for Rep Watts to vote “yes” when he knew the House Speaker would keep our bill from the floor.
As the session continued, it wasn’t long before Rep Watts quit returning my emails and phone calls and when the debate on a medical cannabis reciprocity amendment finally hit the House Floor, he DID NOT stand up and share my son’s story like the other Representatives. As I sat watching from the Gallery, Reps from across the state shared their constituent’s heart wrenching stories and their need for medical cannabis while MY Representative just sat there flipping through a magazine and promptly voted NO on the Reciprocity Agreement with MN (although he himself tells me to obtain my son's medicine elsewhere). Watts also voted NO to allow debate on SF484 (the bill that passed the Iowa Senate in 2015, but was never taken up in the Iowa House) that would have been life changing to people in Iowa who have other debilitating conditions like Cancer, PTSD and AIDS and although he tried to take credit for our current CBD Bill by using the collective “we” in his campaign video on cannabis oil (that he has since deleted from his campaign page)- Iowans need to know that he voted NO on that in 2014 as well. When I asked him why he voted NO on the bills that did come to the House Floor he told me it “wasn’t good for all Iowans”. He then shared he assumed I would continue to get my son’s medicine elsewhere.
Traveling is difficult with any child but with a special needs child the challenges are even greater. We just returned from a 1,300+ mile round trip where I was once again forced to risk federal prosecution by smuggling a drug across multiple state lines to continue to help save my son’s life. The DEA has stated that they will NOT prosecute people as long as they follow their state law. My family and I are not criminals but lawmakers like Representative Watts are forcing us to be. The trip was brutal on my son. He didn’t sleep, barely ate and I’m definitely lucky that the stress of it all didn’t cause a seizure. We aren’t lucky enough to have two incomes or vacation time so he could have stayed safely at home with his father. We don’t have money to hire a nanny or a private nurse. Instead, we had to spend hundreds of dollars on hotel rooms, gas and food on top of the cost of his medicine which is also hundreds of dollars and cash-only.
Since we have returned home, Representative Watts removed my post to his campaign page regarding our difficult trip to Colorado from his campaign page and has removed his video on cannabis claiming: "Due to the graphic nature of comments on our video posted about medical cannabis, it has been removed from our page. It is unfortunate that we tried to open a discussion on the issue, only to have it turn into a very nasty thread by a small group of people. We encourage open debate and discussion, but will not allow vile comments or threats, on any issue. We apologize to anyone who may have seen the comments before we were able to take them down. This is a decision that has not been taken lightly, as we wanted to allow opinions to be heard, but it must be done on a civil and professional level."
Ironically, I commented on that post as well, stating again that he'd voted NO on any medical cannabis bill that has come through the house and how he is spreading misinformation by using Epidiolex as an excuse to not support a medical cannabis program. For those not in the know: Epidiolex is a pharmaceutical version of CBD and is currently still in the trial stage across the country. IF it is FDA approved - it will only be prescribed for children with Lennox Gastaut and Dravet Syndrome - which means that my son WILL NOT QUALIFY for this medicine because he has a genetic epilepsy caused by the UBE2A mutation. Of course, that comment was immediately deleted as well.
It seems that Representative Watts does not in fact want to "encourage an open debate and discussion" on the topic of medical cannabis when he continues to delete commentary that is factual and well written. He clearly doesn't want to allow opinions to be heard if he won't even allow them to be read. In my opinion, if a Representative really wanted people to know the truth on a subject, they wouldn't delete an entire post and would simply delete the posts that were allegedly offensive. Yet, why keep the truth there when you can claim that it was a "nasty thread" and delete the entire thing while pretending to be the victim in this situation and place blame on a "small group of people".
In November, I need a Representative who will do the right thing for families like mine. Not in “due time” like Rep Watts claimed on his now deleted post. Many patients and sick children in Iowa don’t have the time to wait and parents and families like ours cannot continue to risk federal prosecution for doing what is right for our children. Please, remember our story when voting time comes this year and vote Ralph Watts OUT.
I beg you to please forget party lines and instead vote with the sick and suffering in Iowa. Families and patients like my son need help and cannot continue to be betrayed by Representative Watts. Many children’s lives depend on it.
My family and I will be voting for his opponent, Bryce Smith - a born and raised Iowan who cares about the people in Dallas County and who has the compassion and heart to help his constituents.