Yahoo explores what drives parents of children with severe seizure disorders to relocate to states with friendly marijuana policies. It’s not rebellion, but desperation, writer Laura Tedesco reports.
These families have often tried conventional medications without success. Some turn to a specific type of marijuana high in cannabidiol, or CBD, for relief. These high CBD products are low in THC, the component that gives marijuana consumers a high.
Tedesco reports on the experience of Ray Mirzabegian, who sought high CBD marijuana for his daughter Emily, 10. She tried more than a dozen anti-seizure medications; none were effective.
At her worst, she was having 120 seizures a day, at best, 40 to 45 a month. “At that point, [doctors] start retrying some of the medications that failed,” hoping to create a cocktail of several drugs that would work, says Mirzabegian. “We decided that’s not the route to go.”
(KATU recently reported on Oregon parents using a high CBD product to ease their child’s seizures.)
Though there are plenty of anecdotes about the effectiveness of high CBD products for easing seizures, there’s scant scientific evidence.
A 2013 Cochrane review of studies examining CBD as a treatment for epilepsy concluded that, due to the dearth of large, high-quality studies, “the safety of long-term cannibidiol treatment cannot be reliably assessed.”
“All we can say is that it appears to be safe for short periods of time,” David Gloss, MD, a neurologist and co-author of the Cochrane review, tells Yahoo Health. “You have to remember this is new — we do not have long-term studies,” adds Goldstein. “There are a couple kids in Colorado that have been on it for over two years and have had no negative side effects.”
Another doctor, Bonnie Goldstein, who works for a group of medical marijuana practices in California, agreed that high CBD strains need more research.
“But you have to remember, some of these kids are having hundreds of seizures a day. Any parent would pick up and move for their child if they heard something might work and actually has some scientific basis. People have this vision of medical marijuana as someone sitting and smoking a joint. That is no longer what this is about.”
— Noelle Crombie