April 21, 2014

marijuanaThe debate over medical marijuana continues to rage in the United States. So far, 20 states have legalized marijuana for medical purposes, and two have legalized it for recreational use as well. It would seem that marijuana is an emerging industry in the United States, in spite of the fact that it is still technically illegal according to the federal government.

Several months ago Autism Daily Newscast ran a story about Charlotte’s Web, an oil made from marijuana that is high in cannabidiol, but low in THC, the substance that causes the “high” associated with marijuana. This oil has been shown to successfully treat seizures without the unpleasant side-effects of many legal pharmaceuticals. For many families, the difference in their children’s symptoms were so life-changing they decided to leave everything behind and move to Colorado, where they can legally access the precious oil.

Parents who don’t have the means to move are calling for Charlotte’s Web to be legalized, and not only in the United States. Jacqui Cameron lives in Canada with her 11-year-old son, Rylan. Rylan has had at least one seizure per day for the past nine years. During this time, he has lost his ability to speak, he rarely sleeps through the night, and he still wears diapers. He has been on 25 different drugs and has been through brain surgery, but is still suffering from daily seizures. “It’s like having a two-year-old who can reach the top of the fridge and he has no sense of safety or danger or fear,” says Cameron.

Cameron heard about Charlotte’s Web, and has signed a petition asking the Canadian government to legalize cannabis oil for pediatric patients in Canada, where dried marijuana is the only form of medical marijuana that is legal. Cameron goes on to say,

“There’s not a lot left to lose, as bad as that sounds. If (the oil) did nothing except help with his sleep. . .that would be enough for me. If it did something miraculous, like stop the seizures, that would be amazing.”

There is a growing movement of mothers across North American who are fighting for the right to give their children medical marijuana. Mieko Hester Perez is a board member of the NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) Women’s Alliance and founder of the Unconventional Foundation 4 Autism. Six years ago, her son, Joey, was given six months to live. The side-effects of countless medications left him severely malnourished. He was down to 42 pounds when Perez gave him a marijuana-laced brownie. She started giving him a quarter-sized brownie every two to three days. Joey started putting on weight, making eye contact, and became less anxious.

There are many parents out there, like Perez, who are willing to risk jail time and loss of custody in order to provide their children with a medication they say is effective without the debilitating side-effects of many legal pharmaceuticals. Only time will tell whether marijuana will become legal in the United States and Canada, but for now, there are parents who are not willing to wait.

About the author 

Laurel Joss

Laurel Joss is a freelance writer with a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. She worked as an RDI® Program Certified Consultant and has published articles in Autism Spectrum Quarterly and on her blog www.remediatingautism.blogspot.com. She is a mother to two children, one of whom is on the autism spectrum. You can also follow her on https://twitter.com/speaking_autism and https://www.facebook.com/speaking.autism.ca

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