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• Legal Ease • Harper Grace’s Law: Providing Hope to Suffering Children and Opportunity to the State

S

Adam Woods

eizures. Developmental disabilities. Chronic Infections. Constant fear of injury or death. These are just a few of the tribulations that hundreds of thousands of families face every year, including thousands in Mississippi alone, when their child suffers from epilepsy, a disorder in which a person has two or more seizures that are not brought on by an immediate underlying cause.1 Fortunately, many patients treated for epilepsy are able to attain adequate seizure control through conventional pharmaceutical medications, such as anticonvulsants. However, 30-40% of patients suffer from refractory, or intractable, seizures, meaning two or more conventional drugs provided them with no relief from their epileptic seizures.1,2 Unfortunately for these refractory patients, there is less than a 10% chance that they will respond to other conventional pharmaceutical treatments, leaving them with an uphill battle in a desperate search to find anything that could stop, or at least lessen, the seizures that often affect most, if not all, aspects of their lives.3

Fighting against such odds has caused many families across the nation to turn to a more non-conventional approach in their search for relief. In August 2013, CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta featured a story about a little girl from Colorado named Charlotte Figi who achieved astounding results using cannabidiol oil (CBD oil) made from a strain of medical marijuana that is low in the psychoactive ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and high in the non-psychoactive ingredient cannabidiol (CBD) to treat her Dravet Syndrome.4 Dravet Syndrome is a rare form of refractory epilepsy which begins in infancy and can cause a child to have hundreds of tonic-clonic or grand mal seizures a week. These seizures may cause children to lose consciousness, have convulsions, and, in the case of children like Charlotte, be so severe that they cause their heart to stop. If the child continues to have these uncontrolled seizures, they can leave the child unable to walk, talk, or sleep.5 Charlotte was having up to 300 seizures a week and was prescribed seven seizure medications, all of which failed to provide her with any relief.4 With all other treatment options exhausted, and with the consent of two physicians, Charlotte’s desperate parents decided to try CBD oil. Amazingly, Charlotte responded favorably beginning with the very first dose. She is now having seizures only two to three times a month and is able to walk and interact with her family.4 Charlotte’s incredible experience has caused CBD oil to receive national attention, resulting in a surge of anecdotal evidence supporting its positive effects in the treatment of epilepsy as well as a push from parents of other children that suffer from refractory epilepsy to be able to obtain the treatment for their own children. But, due to marijuana’s federal status as a Schedule I drug, determined by the federal government to have no potential medical use and a high potential for abuse,6 scientific research on CBD oil has been extremely limited, leaving many families across the nation unable to gain access to the treatment.7 However, the social outcry from these parents whose children have not been helped by conventional pharmaceutical medications has resulted in several states pursuing new state legislation that would remove CBD oil from the state’s Schedule I list. Advocates argue that CBD oil contains such trace amounts of THC that it cannot be used recreationally and, therefore, should not be held to the same illegal standard as marijuana.8 Further, researchers are making it clear that CBD oil is unlike medical marijuana because it is orally administered, rather than smoked.9 Recently, 11 states have decided to allow the use of a low THC, high CBD oil, Mississippi being one of them.

August 2014 JOURNAL MSMA 273

Profile for Journal MSMA

August 2014 JMSMA  

The Journal MSMA has a circulation of 4,000, which includes the membership of the Association and paid subscribers. The year 2014 represents...

August 2014 JMSMA  

The Journal MSMA has a circulation of 4,000, which includes the membership of the Association and paid subscribers. The year 2014 represents...