Health

Arizona Parents Fight to Give 5-Year-Old Epileptic Medical Marijuana

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Five-year-old Zander Welton suffers from epileptic seizures, and medical marijuana seems to be the only treatment that helps.

Acknowledging this special need, the Arizona Department of Health Services approved Zander for medical marijuana, issuing him a state-sanctioned ID card. But now that Zander’s parents fear criminal prosecution from county officials, they have stopped giving the boy his medicine.

Along with losing parts of his brain in two surgeries, Zander has tried to control his epilepsy with traditional drugs. But these pharmaceuticals come with major side effects, including organ failure. If not allowed treatment with marijuana extract, Zander may need brain surgery that could render him paralyzed or left in a vegetative state.

Medical marijuana proved the most promising treatment option, according to mother Jennifer Welton. “My son was no longer being woken up several times a night by dangerous and scary seizures,” she said.

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Rather than smoking marijuana, Zander took concentrated cannabidiol, which has less of a psychoactive effect than THC.

The Weltons have teamed with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to sue for the right to administer the marijuana derivative to Zander without legal repercussions.

“Casting a cloud of criminality over medical marijuana extracts is wrong and cruel,” ACLU attorney Emma Andersson told Raw Story. “After seeing not one but two brain surgeries fail to help their son, Zander’s parents finally found an effective treatment in a medical marijuana extract, [but] they don’t deserve to be scared off from the best medicine available for Zander.”

“I’m not sure why the county attorney is going so far out of his way to twist the interpretation of the law,” Andersson added. “... No parent should have to factor in jail time when deciding to use the most effective medicine to protect their child’s health.” 

The suit targets Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and the Arizona Department of Health Services, among other state health officials.

Sources: Raw Story, ACLU