Heather Shuker of western Pennsylvania and Tracy Popalo of Cumberland County pose with Shuker's dauther, Hannah, 12. On March 16, 2016, they were about to enter the gallary at the state Capitol to watch House members vote on a bill that would legalize medical marijuana. Shuker believes medical marijuana will provide an effective treatment for Hannah's disabling seizures. (David Wenner/PennLive)
Heather Shuker hopes a vote in the state House on Wednesday afternoon will represent a huge step in a journey that has included countless trips to the Capitol from her home near Pittsburgh.
She expects the vote to finally clear the way for her 12-year-old daughter, Hannah, to receive medical marijuana to treat disabling seizures that haven’t been well-controlled with available drugs.
Shuker said the seizures have caused Hannah to regress physically and intellectually. She says available medications have provided limited benefit, and, because they are so toxic, likely are responsible for a shrinking of part of her brain.
“Hopefully, we can get Hannah back,” she said shortly before entering the gallery to await a vote.
The House was expected to vote on an amended version of a legalization bill that passed overwhelmingly in the Senate. But the amended bill will have to go back to the Senate for another vote. Gov. Tom Wolf has said he will sign the bill.
Shuker, who estimates she has made about 20 trips to Harrisburg over the last two-and-a-half years to lobby for the bill, said on Wednesday afternoon: “I think it’s perfect, but there are a lot of good things about it. It’s something we can work with,”
“We’ve had so many ups and downs over the years,” she said. “But it’s gonna happen today.”