Desperate parents of children with severe forms of epilepsy are demanding access to an experimental treatment made from marijuana. Russel A. Daniels/AP
“The Epilepsy Foundation supports the rights of patients and families living with seizures and epilepsy to access physician directed care, including medical marijuana. Nothing should stand in the way of patients gaining access to potentially life-saving treatment. If a patient and their healthcare professionals feel that the potential benefits of medical marijuana for uncontrolled epilepsy outweigh the risks, then families need to have that legal option now—not in five years or ten years. For people living with severe uncontrolled epilepsy, time is not on their side,” the Feb. 20 statement declared.
They have also called for the lessening of DEA restrictions that limit clinical trials and research into medical marijuana for epilepsy and applauded the rise in recent cannabidiol (CBD) clinical trials.
This request comes on behalf of many epilepsy patients and parents of epileptic children particularly, that face the very difficult decision to split their family while seeking treatment in a medical state or uprooting their family entirely, potentially leaving jobs and family homes.
Many of these marijuana refugees are finding success treating their children’s epilepsy with cannabis. Maria and Mark Botker, mother and father to Greta Botker, chronicled in a recent USA Today article, say they were at the end of their rope after numerous medications, diets and brain surgery couldn’t ease their 7-year-old daughter’s 15 or so daily seizures.
After seeing Sanjay Gupta’s CNN documentary “Weed” which highlights the now infamous Charlotte’s Web cannabis strain for treating children with epilepsy, the family made the difficult decision to split. Maria and Greta moved to Colorado while Mark and their two older daughters remained in their hometown in Minnesota.
While treatment for Greta costs $600 a month and is not covered by insurance, the Botker’s feel they have found a miracle. Greta is down to four to six seizures a day.
Igor Grant, director of the University of California’s Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research told USA Today in the same article that CBD is believed to act as a brake on parts of the brain that cause epileptic seizures and as a stimulant in other parts that help reduce them.
The Epilepsy Foundation has pledged in their statement to call for the implementation of a lesser schedule for marijuana so that it can be more easily accessible for medical research.
The Epilepsy Foundation concluded by pledging support for “appropriate changes to state laws to increase access to medical marijuana as a treatment option for epilepsy, including pediatric use as supported by a treating physician.”