Parents with children who suffer from seizures are aware of how dangerous and debilitating they are. Some parents would be willing to do anything to help their children overcome their seizures, even if it means administering medical marijuana to their kids.
Two families, the Surins in Illinois and the Warriors in Oklahoma, are hoping for systemic change that will allow their daughters to obtain medical marijuana treatments legally.
Last week, 11-year-old Ashley Surin from Chicago was granted an exemption to take medical marijuana at her school to treat her seizures, after her parents sued both the state of Illinois and the school district.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Ashley was diagnosed with leukemia when she was 2 years old. She went into remission seven years ago, but one of her chemotherapy drugs, methotrexate, left her with brain damage and seizures on a daily basis.
The Chicago Tribune reported that Ashley once fell after a seizure and hit her head, resulting in her needing brain surgery. According to WLS-TV, Ashley later found relief in medical marijuana treatments, which lead to her marked improvement and is allowing her parents to ease her off other medications and transition her back into the swing of school.
The treatments come in the form of a patch applied to her foot, and oil extract for Ashley’s wrists. Her parents said that she only had one seizure since starting medical marijuana treatments. Maureen explained that Ashley takes drops that contain CBD and THC, known for its psychoactive properties, but the amount she uses is not enough to cause her to get high.Alexandre Chambon/Unsplash
Her parents wanted both of these treatments available at her school to avoid any future incidents. Combined with a special diet, Maureen said that the treatments have been “like a golden cure.”
She told the Chicago Tribune:
“She can think better, walk better, talk better. Her brain used to be like in a cloud. Now she can think clearer, she’s more alert, she can interact, and she seems like she can now go back to school and learn and not be in a cloud [as] on all those previous medicines.”
The Surins said that denying their daughter’s treatments at school violates the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
According to WLS-TV, Maureen said:
“We have to fight for her right to go to school, her right to have medicine there, just like the next kid has insulin and an Epipen and Tylenol. My daughter has the same rights.”
But not everyone thinks that it is a good idea to allow medical marijuana in schools. The Chicago Tribune reported that Sue Rusche, director of National Families in Action, which works to prevent and protect children from using drugs, believes that only marijuana extracts approved by the Food and Drug Administration should be allowed.
“The legalization folks are willing to exploit desperately ill people to get medical marijuana and full legalization.”
Federal judge John Blakely ruled that her school district now has the ability to give her medical marijuana when needed. The assistant attorney general allowed for the treatments to be administered until further word from the attorney general, as the state law needs to be addressed.
The Chicago Tribune reported that Blakely does not believe that Ashley’s treatments would be problematic in a school setting.
“No one’s saying she wants to fire up a bong in math class.”
Maureen was ecstatic when she heard about the ruling.
“I’m in pinch-me mode. I’m excited. This is not just going to help her, I hope it’s going to help other kids down the road.”
The family is hoping that this ruling could also benefit other children who may benefit from taking medical marijuana at school.
“I think it’s mission critical the legislation be revised to reflect the effectiveness of these meds and how it benefits, not just our daughter, but for other students, other kids.”
Meanwhile, in Oklahoma, voters will be deciding whether or not to legalize medical marijuana with State Question 788.
Jaqie Angel Warrior suffers from rare form of epilepsy, which started when she was 5 months old. WXXA reported that Jaqie’s seizures occur every day and are potentially deadly. When she was 20 months old, a neurologist recommended cannabis oil to treat the condition. The treatment was successful, and she no longer needed medication for her seizures.
Her mom, Brittany, said that before trying the cannabis oil, they were starting to lose hope.
She told WXXA:
“Prior to starting cannabis, Jaqie had anywhere from 150 to 300 seizures a day. She was catatonic and life was fading out of her before my eyes.”
Brittany hopes that voters will consider 788 on the Oklahoma ballot so that her daughter can continue getting the treatments she needs. According to the Associated Press, if the measure goes through doctors will be able to refer patients age 25 and up to obtain a medical marijuana license.
You can watch the WLS-TV report below.