Medical Marijuana Last Hope for Minn. Family

| by Allison Geller

Another family is suffering from the ban on access to the drug that will most help their sick child: marijuana.

Seven-year-old Amelia Weaver of Minnesota suffers from Dravet syndrome, a debilitating form of epilepsy that causes near-constant seizures. Weaver suffered her first seizure at two-and-a-half. Since then her health has spiraled severely.

“She has zero quality of life right now, and she is suffering every day,” said Amelia’s mother, Angie Weaver.

“We have all but exhausted our options,” said the mom.

The only remaining hope is medical marijuana, which has been little short of a miracle for other children who suffer from the same condition. The lack of access to it prompted a New Jersey family to move to Colorado to seek the treatment for their toddler, who also suffers from Dravet syndrome. In Georgia, parents have begun lobbying their state legislature to legalize medicinal marijuana for the same reason.

At 7, Amelia has virtually lost her ability to function, suffering from 20 to 30 seizures a day. She has trouble walking and must wear a helmet to protect her from falling. She can no longer speak. The drugs that she is on are dangerous, in addition to having little visible effect.

“Let me tell you the side effects of her medications right now,” Angie Weaver said. “Death. Blindness. Liver damage. … Anticonvulsant medications are pretty much some of the strongest medications that you can give with the strongest side effects.”

Other children who take a THC compound in oil or butter form have seen drastic improvements. The concentration is not enough to produce any “high” or any other effect besides relief from their seizures— with few, if any, side effects.

A medical marijuana bill is currently up for debate in the Minnesota state legislature. It doesn’t seem likely that it will be passed this year, however. There are too many opponents to the bill, who argue that marijuana is a dangerous gateway drug and that the consequences of legalization would outweigh the benefits. A medical marijuana bill passed in both houses of the state legislature in 2009, but was vetoed by the governor.

“We just want safe, legal access to a medicine that can help our daughter,” said Angie Weaver.

Sources: Inforum, Grand Forks Herald