Lisa Smith was there with her 14-year-old daughter, Haley. Beth and Patrick Collins were there too, accompanied by their 15-year-old daughter Jennifer. Later, they would be joined by Teresa Elder, her daughter Ashley, and Teresa’s 22-year-old son, Tommy.
Haley, Jennifer and Tommy are desperately ill with extreme forms of epilepsy. They have illnesses so insidious they have stymied a virtual army of doctors and specialists. But these families believe that oils made from a cannabis plant might help their children where they say all other anti-epilepsy drugs have failed.
Both Beth and Patrick say they were ecstatic to see their daughter “come back.” But they say the stress of the separation on their family was too much. Beth and Jennifer moved back to Virginia and took up the cause of lobbying the legislature in their home state to legalize the THCa and CBD oils.
As striking as these stories are, they remain anecdotal stories. The safety and effectiveness of these oils has not been established by clinical research in this country, according to doctors. Some researchers say that’s largely because marijuana in all forms remains illegal at the federal level, making it difficult for scientists to obtain the plant for clinical trials.
One scientist who is intrigued by the potential of marijuana treatments is Dr. Amy Brooks-Kayal, a neurologist specializing in epilepsy in Denver, who is also the president of the American Epilepsy Society. She urges caution, saying there just isn’t enough known about these oils to say they are safe or how they may ultimately affect patients.
“There’s no question that based on the science, there is potential there for a component of marijuana and possibly Cannabidiol to be an effective treatment, but we don’t know that yet, and most importantly we don’t know the potential side effects. We don’t want to make their seizures better and make their lives worse.”
Dr. Brooks-Kayal welcomes more research on medical marijuana.
“You have to do the studies,” she says. “In medicine, believing that we know the truth without doing the study is a very unsafe thing to do. The reports from a single family or a single child don’t mean that anybody else is going to respond that way.”
Dr. Brooks-Kayal, and the organization she heads, do support changing federal laws to make research on marijuana easier. Other experts Harry Smith spoke to believe there is potential to alleviate other neurodegenerative conditions with cannabis-based treatments .
For all of the Virginia families on that day in Richmond earlier this year — Lisa and Bobby Smith and their daughter Haley; Teresa Elder and her son Tommy; and Beth, Patrick, and Jennifer Collins – the cannabis oils represented a sense of hope. They all hoped to be able to get access to the oils in Virginia. And they all hoped they could alleviate what plagues their children.
Watch the video below to see the outcome of this touching story.
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