When Mandy McKnights 10-year-old daughter got her first drug talk in school last year, the teacher asked if any kids in the Ottawa-area Grade 6 class had ever seen any drugs. McKnight said her daughters hand shot up. She told her teacher she had seen drugs, said McKnight – pharmaceutical drugs. Her daughter explained to the class that shed also seen cannabis, but that she didnt see cannabis as a drug. It was a medicine, one that had helped her little brother Liam, who suffered from epilepsy.
That a 10-year-old was the one to lead an educational talk on medicinal marijuana in her Grade 6 classroom is a point of pride to McKnight, but also a source of frustration. McKnight was one of three parents of kids that have been helped by medicinal marijuana, who took to the stage at LIFT Cannabis Expo in Vancouver on Sunday, to advocate for wider education among public and physicians, deeper research and greater funding.
Cannabis was a last resort for McKnights family. Liam, now 8, suffers from Dravet syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy. He had up to 80 grand mal seizures a day, despite being on multiple conventional medications and a special diet. Although cannabis oil hasnt cured Liam, it has enabled him to experience up to 10 seizure-free days at a time.
Liam is not in the hospital any more for two weeks at a time, taking up a hospital bed, said McKnight. Before switching from pharmaceutical drugs to cannabis oil, McKnight said the family was calling an ambulance for Liam as often as twice a week. McKnight said the improvement theyve seen in Liam since starting with cannabis oil has been a miracle.
Whats happening on the ground and with parents drives the science, said panel host Hilary Black. Parents, on their own, without a lot of guidance, without a lot of support [are] learning how to apply cannabinoid therapy to really complicated cases.
Alexander Repetski, of Toronto, another parent and accidental advocate said his four-year-old daughter, Gwen, was diagnosed with a severe, intractable form of epilepsy at just three months old. Gwens parents tried at least 10 drugs, including steroids, before deciding to try medical marijuana oil. Repetski said he hopes the federal governments push for legalizing recreational cannabis will help raise awareness and push research on medical marijuana and open up funding options.
The steroids she was put on cost $22,000, said Repetski. And they didnt work. Repetski says he has spent $5,000 to $6,000 on equipment to extract the cannabinoids from the dried marijuana he purchases for Gwens use. Since using cannabis extracts, Gwen hasnt had a seizure in 20 months, said Repetski.
Montreal Mom Kunval Hanif also shared the story of her son, Zen, who suffered brain damage due to hypoxia, a lack of oxygen during birth. He has cerebral palsy, a seizure disorder that caused up to 200 seizures a day, and is blind due to damage to his optic nerve. We tried multiple different medications, said Hanif. After trying 21 medications and the ketogenic diet without success, Hanif asked her neurologist about cannabis. He said thats the door,’ Hanif said.
Desperate, she decided to take her son to Los Angeles, where she was able to connect with other parents to try cannabis oil. I will never forget that day, she said. It was eight oclock at night. I gave him the first dosage. I did not know how much I should give him. I just sat there the whole night watching him and he had not a single seizure.
Hanif, McKnight and Repetski argued that as Canada moves forward with the legalization of recreational marijuana, the spotlight should also be on medicinal use, greater education for doctors, and funding for families where conventional medications have failed.
News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Cannabis Oil Hailed As ‘A Miracle’ For Epileptic Son
Author: Denise Ryan
Photo Credit: Wayne Cuddington
Website: The Province