If there is one issue which is likely to whip people into a frenzied state of unrest it is the idea of children using ‘drugs’. Obviously we don’t think that we should be handing out needles in kindergarten, but the sad truth is that some of us will have to contend with the harsh reality of children suffering from serious medical issues at some stage in our lives. Whether this is the child of a close friend, our niece, nephew, grandchild or even a child of our own, there is nothing in this world which can compare to the heartbreak of watching a child in pain when you feel useless to help them. Many areas of society consider the concept of medicating children with cannabis extracts as being evil and inhumane, but when you consider the alternatives it becomes far less easy to distinguish between black and white.
A multitude of pharmaceuticals are prescribed to treat conditions such as seizures by medical practitioners, but there is no guarantee that they will work. Nothing is perfect and no medicine works one hundred per cent of the time, yet one thing is certain with almost all forms of traditional medications: undesirable side-effects. Nobody wants to see their child suffering, but nobody wants to see their happy-go-lucky offspring transformed into a vegetative zombie either. Chemical compounds target specific parts of our brain and/or nervous system to alter the way a part our body processes information or responds to key stimuli, however there is always a significant risk that the same components can have an adverse effect on other parts of our anatomy. Why should ‘treatment’ cause more problems than the condition it is meant to ease?
CBD is rapidly becoming the answer to many medical issues and is helping to improve the image of medicinal marijuana strains. Medicinal marijuana can be engineered through controlled breeding to produce high levels of CBD without any THC whatsoever (or at least in trace levels only) to ensure that it has no adverse psychological effects on the patient. The therapeutic qualities of marijuana are continuing to gain recognition and forward thinking individuals believe that its ability to treat children is an area which deserves to have far more research funding. Reducing THC content whilst raising the CBD levels allows for controlled doses to be administered to patients with no noticeable negative side effects. CBD does not get you high, but it can ease your pain and reduce the frequency of fits and seizures in people who suffer from epilepsy. Although some of the locations around the globe which have changed their stance on marijuana maintain a strict age limit of 18/21 years or above, there have been reports of some places which are granting limited access to marijuana, for strict medical requirements only, to the younger parts of the population too.
Governor Bill Haslam gave final approval to a new law which allows the people of Tennessee to legally gain access to cannabis oil for medical purposes. If a medical practitioner believes that cannabis is a viable alternative to traditional pharmaceuticals, a decision which must be made based on evidence and experience with the patient, then they can issue a prescription that grants the patient a legal right to possess cannabis oil within state lines. Cultivation and sale is still illegal, but this measure allows people to make use of the differing laws in other states, such as Colorado, without fear of legal repercussions when they return home. When you consider that 23 states have made medical marijuana legal in some form or another, it is clear that this is a very reasonable step in the right direction.
The bill itself is reported to be the start of something much bigger, with Tennessee hoping to see opportunities to grow and distribute medical marijuana within state lines in the not-too-distant future. Currently, the bill does not permit any method of smoking marijuana and instead focuses on edibles and digestible forms to ensure that there is a strict control on the way that its properties are utilized, but a move towards legalization may not be a simple pipe-dream. Some argue that this is currently an unfair factor to accept whilst others believe that this is a bold statement which shows that the medicinal properties are the most important aspect to focus on. Any acknowledgement that marijuana is an effective therapeutic plant cannot be honestly met with dissatisfaction.
Perhaps the most inspiring part of this new chapter is the impact it is already having on its patients. Josie Mathes is a 1-year-old girl whose young life has been marred by relentless seizures. Her parents have had no option other than watching her suffer from intense episodes whilst trying to combat her condition with countless medications that left her a ‘shell of a child’. Unfortunately for the family, Josie did not respond well to the prescribed medications and her parents felt like they were ‘doping her up’ without seeing significant reductions in the frequency or intensity of her seizures. The first few years of a child’s life are crucial in their development and their greatest fear was that the medication took away her chances of living a ‘normal life’ more than the seizures themselves. After working with the family throughout Josie’s short life, her doctor began to consider alternative therapies to replace the 30 milliliters of medication she had come to rely on.
Bravely, the doctor explained that he would prescribe Josie a course of cannabis oil (0.14 milliliters) three times daily. His belief was that it had just as good a chance, if not better, of combating the seizures intensity and frequency with far less significant side-effects than her current medication. Despite their desire to move away from the previously prescribed course of drugs, the Mathes family were informed that she would need to be weaned off them to avoid a painful period of withdrawal symptoms. Imagine having to watch a 1-year-old overcome an addiction. How can this be the ‘right’ way to care for our children? Once the doctor had delivered his idea for a new approach, they just had to wait for the legal system to allow it to happen. On the day that Governor Haslan signed off on the new law, the prescription was signed and Josie’s family were able to travel to Colorado and legally acquire their daughter’s new natural medicine. They are truly thankful for the opportunity to try something different and they hope that they will see a real change for the better once Josie is weaned off the old medications. We at Weed World wish them all the best for the future.
Published originally in Weed World Magazine issue 118