Several months ago Autism Daily Newscast ran some articles about families who were successfully treating some of their children’s symptoms of autism with medical marijuana. Certain compounds in the drug have been shown to help with seizures and other debilitating symptoms, without the harsh side effects that many pharmaceutical drugs can cause.
Now that Colorado has passed a law legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, many families are moving in order to gain access to the controversial treatment. They come from different states and backgrounds, different religions and political beliefs, united in the quest for a treatment to help their children.
Some have moved the entire family, others left some behind, paying rent and raising children in different states. They call themselves marijuana refugees, and they report that the sacrifices they are making are well worth it. “I put what fit in my car and drove out here,” says Marisa Kiser, whose 19-month-old son, Ezra, has been suffering from seizures since he was 3 months old.
The medication that is making such a difference in the lives of these children is called Charlotte’s Web. It is a rich amber oil made from marijuana that is low in THC, but high in cannbidiol, or CBD. It was created by a medical marijuana dispensary in Colorado Springs called Indispensary. One month’s supply costs between $150 to $250, and many families are receiving financial help from a group called the Realm of Caring Foundation.
Heather Jackson, executive director of the Realm of Caring Foundation, says that her son, Zaki, used to have 200 seizures a day. He still suffers from developmental disabilities, and will probably need care through his lifetime, but with the Charlotte’s Web oil, he has been seizure-free for fourteen months. EEG readouts taken before and after starting treatment show a noticeable difference in his brain patterns. Jackson says,
“It’s really incredible. For whatever reason, this has put his syndrome into remission.”
Paige Figi moved to Colorado with her daughter, Charlotte, whose seizures were so severe they occurred every fifteen minutes. When they arrived in Colorado she was unable to walk or speak. Since starting the treatment, she is now able to dance and sing.
Annie Koozer’s 2 year-old daughter, Piper, suffers from Aicardi Syndrome, a genetic disorder in which the structure that connects the two hemispheres of the brain is deformed or missing. From the age of 3 months she has suffered 400 seizures a day. She has seen five neurologists and tried nine different medications, all of which caused severe side effects. Since starting treatment with Charlotte’s Web, she still has seizures, but less often, sometimes as few as two or three per day.
Research on medical marijuana is in its infancy, mostly due to the fact that the drug has been illegal. Time will tell whether or not marijuana oil is a viable treatment for seizures, but for these families, the only proof they need are the changes they see in their children.