A Nebraska couple is pushing for the legalization of medical marijuana to help their son’s debilitating seizures.
Will Gillen has Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy. Every day, the 11-year-old experiences debilitating violent seizures.
Shelley Gillen says the current treatment options for her son’s condition are not ideal:
“The medicines that he’s on right now, there are multiple side effects and he is in a constant fog.”
Another option for Will is available a few hours away in Colorado. That treatment is a medical marijuana product called cannabidiol oil, or CBD. Colorado parents with children similar to Will have been reporting positive results.
Here’s the problem: under current Nebraska law, the Gillens would be considered child abusers if they gave Will medical marijuana. In Nebraska, all marijuana use is illegal.
Dominic Gillen, Will’s father, expressed frustration with their current options:
“You got this major surgery is an option and you have this possibility oil or something may help him. It seems like it’s a pretty easy choice. It’s frustrating knowing that across the border there is an option.”
The Gillens contacted state Sen. Sue Crawford for assistance. Crawford is researching CBD to decide whether to push for legalization:
“I don’t think it poses as a concern to be abused as a recreational drug because it doesn’t produce a high. I think, the first step that we’ll take in Nebraska is to find out of our existing regulations — is this substance something we could already clarify if it’s okay for parents to buy or would there have to be a change in regulations?” Crawford said.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s current research does not show CBD as an effective seizure-reduction treatment. But parents in Colorado and elsewhere report promising results.
Stanford University neurology researcher Dr. Catherine Jacobson conducted a parent survey to see how children were responding to cannabidiol. The results are impressive:
These parents had children with some of the most difficult-to-treat syndromes of epilepsy found in children: Dravet syndrome, Doose syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. All of the kids were being treated with a nonpsychoactive compound made from cannabis — cannabidiol. Their parents report remarkable results — 83 percent noted that their children’s seizure frequency had been reduced. Two-thirds of these children achieved a greater than 80 percent reduction in seizure incidence. Seventy-five percent of the parents reported success in weaning their kids from other ASDs (anti-seizure drugs); a similar proportion noted improved sleep, mood and alertness in their children. Most important, the survey’s author notes that common negative side effects reported on other ASDs were notably absent on cannabidiol, including rash, vomiting, nausea, confusion, insomnia, anxiety, irritability, dizziness and aggressive behavior. (source)
Will’s parents hope the state allows the treatment for their son and others with similar conditions.
“It’s not a political issue. This is a compassion issue,” Dominic said.
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