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Utah Mom Risks it all to Treat Daughter with Cannabis

Children Cannabis Now Magazine
Photo by Maeka Alexis


Utah Mom Risks it all to Treat Daughter with Cannabis

Sarah Ellet is doing everything she can to fight for the right to treat her daughter the best way possible.

The faithful call Utah Zion, but liberals call Utah’s mostly conservative laws “The Zion Curtain”. Sarah Ellett is a mother of three disabled children. Her daughter Remie suffers from panhypopituitarism, a thyroid disease that forces Remie to eat through a feeding tube. A tipoff led The Utah Division of Child and Family services to come knocking on Sarah Ellett’s door.

“I’m not sure what to do,” Ellett told the Salt Lake Tribune. “One thing I want to do is continue treating Remie, and if I stay in Utah, I can’t keep treating her… I can’t take that chance because they will take her.”

Ellet is a single mother who lives in Nephi, Utah, a predominantly Mormon city in Central Utah. She had been traveling to Portland, Oregon, to obtain a medical cannabis card as Oregon allows out-of-state patients to participate in the state’s cannabis program. For seven months, Sarah administered small drops of cannabis oil with a toothpick under Remie’s tongue. Remie has since begun walking, swimming and showing other areas of improvement.

“She started jumping on the trampoline,” Ellett explained. “She just started being able to make movements. Instead of sitting there being the observer she started being a participant in the family.”

To continue providing her daughter with cannabis Ellet is now considering a move to a medical marijuana state as she fears action from child and family services.

“They told me they needed to make sure that Remie wasn’t in any danger,” Ellett told PEOPLE. “I told them they would have to leave and talk to my lawyer. They were polite and said they were sorry they had to be there, but it did cause me concern. My biggest worry is being unable to continue to treat Remie without being in violation of Utah law. There are a lot of risks there.”

Panhypopituitarism slowly destroys the functionality of the pituitary gland causing blurred vision, low blood sugar and stunted growth. Traditional therapy consists of dangerous growth hormones and hydrocortisone.

“The cannabis oil is a miracle – it’s what is giving her a good quality of life,” Ellett said. “The very first day Remie had it, she walked on her own for the first time. It’s helped balance her blood sugar, controlled her nausea and enabled her to move her jaw, chew and swallow. Because of this oil, she’s achieving milestones that we never thought possible.”

Ellet says that Remie and four of her other seven children suffer from a genetic condition called familial polyposis. All could benefit from the effects of cannabis oil.

While Utah has a CBD-only law in place since 2014, Senator Mark Madsen R-Saratoga Springs has introduced a bill that would legalize the whole plant.

“Once again, we see Utah state agencies enforcing outdated and ignorant cannabis policy, and again the outcome is unjust and cruel at best,” Mark Madsen said to PEOPLE regarding Ellet’s situation. “How many more parents, like Sarah, and their sick children, like Remie, will Utah government force to flee to more enlightened and compassionate states before their elected representatives start respecting them enough to return the freedom and choice that never should have been denied them to begin with?”

Madsen’s Bill, Senate Bill 73, would only allow patients access to medicinal cannabis in the form of cannabis oil or in edible form.

“Sarah is terrified – the state truly has all the power,” warned Ellett’s friend, Christine Stenquist. Stenquist is cofounder of Utah’s TRUCE or Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education, a local advocacy group.

If Ellet is successful at securing access for her daughter Remie, her case could have implications for the scores of other mothers that illegally treat their kids with cannabis in Utah.

Should parents be able to do whatever it takes to ensure the health of their children?



  1. Theresa Cardilla

    March 16, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    As I was fighting for my life following my cancer diagnosis. I did all the traditional medications and treatments that my Utah Dr’s prescribed. Unfortunately it did not help me much. After going days, then weeks without being able to eat, barely drink, I became bedridden,extremely weak and eating became a chore that seemed impossible to do. Until one evening, someone that I loved dearly and visa versa came to me with cannabis oil and actually begged me to try it. I must say at that time I did NOT believe in the medicinal use of marijuana,I always thought it was an excuse for people that wanted to get”high to do so. However I did try this oil, and without me even realizing, within 20 minutes I was sitting up, talking and wanting to eat! I walked downstairs to see my daughter, and saying, I’m Hungary. Tears ran down my daughters face. Later that evening she told me that for the first time in a long time she saw something other then death. I have waited to complete my treatments, to get healthy and strong. Now I want to stand up and fight the fight for the truth on the benefits of cannabis.

    • Caroline

      March 26, 2017 at 7:16 pm

      There are so many of us that believe in medicinal marijuana, but living in Utah, being Mormon makes it difficult to stand up to our beliefs. I often feel like a hypocrite because I personally witnessed what this can do to help a person. My best friend suffers from epilepsy, and the medication she takes to keep her seizures under control is very hard on her body. She often is so tired and drugged up that she can’t do what other teenagers our age do. When she started using the marijuana oil in place of the other drugs prescribed by her Dr. the difference was amazing. She has not had one seizure, not one headache, and she is able to do and enjoy things again. Unfortunately, she must lie to almost everyone. Her parents, her bishop, her teachers, even her friends. Because we live in Utah and it is illegal this is what she feels she must do. I hope this law changes before she turns 18 (16 mo. away) because we have talked about having to move to another state where it is legal. She doesn’t want to get HIGH, she just wants to be HEALTHY, and happy.
      Why can’t the Dr’s and the politician’s get it right and do the right thing?

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