Pubdate: Wed, 30 Oct 2013
Source: Citizens' Voice, The (Wilkes-Barre, PA)
Copyright: 2013 The Citizens' Voice
Author: Dave Phillips, Associated Press


New Pot Laws Are Drawing Families Seeking Medical Cures

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) - When Mohammad Halabi was a boy, his 
parents fled war in Lebanon to give their child a chance at life. 
This month, as Mr. Halabi drove to Denver International Airport to 
pick up his wife and 2-year-old daughter, he realized he was doing 
the same thing.

Mr. Halabi's daughter, Mia, has severe epilepsy. Treatment by some of 
the country's best neurologists and with the most powerful drugs has 
done little. This year, doctors told him to prepare for her death.

"No matter what we did, nothing helped. She just got worse until she 
was almost a vegetable," he said. "She had no chance at life."

Then in July, he and his wife, Miriam, saw an online video of a 
Colorado Springs girl's astounding recovery from epilepsy using an 
oil made from a special strain of marijuana. The Halabis live in New 
York City, where medical marijuana is illegal.

"As soon as we saw it, we knew we had to go," he said.

Families of children with severe medical problems are moving to 
Colorado from all over the country to get the oil that appears to be 
working. They call themselves marijuana refugees.

"These families are really desperate," said Dr. Margaret Gedde, a 
Stanford-educated Colorado Springs pathologist who has recommended 
many of the arriving children for medical marijuana. "They've tried 
all the drugs, and nothing has worked. This is the only option left."

While pharmaceutical grade cannabidiol is available in other 
countries, clinical trials for FDA approval in the United States are 
just getting underway.

In to 2012, a 5-year-old girl named Charlotte Figi who has a genetic 
disorder called Dravet syndrome that causes catastrophic seizures, 
was given a new chance at life from marijuana. Doctors tried 
everything from barbiturates to extreme diets to control the 
disorder, but nothing helped. She was in the hospital constantly. 
Twice her heart stopped. Not wanting to prolong their child's 
suffering, her parents signed a "do not resuscitate" order.

As a last-ditch effort, they decided to try marijuana, and it worked.

Experimenters developed a new strain of marijuana that was 
exceptionally low in THC - the chemical that makes users stoned - and 
exceptionally high in a chemical called cannabidiol that has no 
intoxicating effects, but that a handful of decades-old studies 
suggested might reduce seizures.

The original developers called it Hippie's Disappointment, because no 
one wanted to buy it. They have since renamed it Charlotte's Web 
after a girl who once had 300 seizures a week and now has on average 
fewer than one.
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