Pubdate: Wed, 20 Nov 2013
Source: Reporter, The (PA)
Copyright: 2013 The Reporter
Author: Daylin Leach
Note: State Sen. Daylin Leach, a Democrat, represents the 17th District.
Page: A5


Garrett Brann is about to turn 3 years old. He has a form of epilepsy,
known as "Dravet Syndrome," which is robbing him of his childhood, a
normal life, and so much more. The disease manifests itself primarily
in almost constant seizures.

Garrett routinely has more than 100 seizures, of varying degrees of
intensity, every day. Garrett's story is obviously sad, but what makes
it truly tragic is that there is a treatment which could very possibly
end Garrett's seizures and allow him to live a normal life. However,
because that treatment is a derivative of marijuana, he is not allowed
to have it.

As a result of these seizures, Garrett's brain does not rest long
enough to develop normally.

He, like all children with Dravet's, suffers from severe cognitive
underdevelopment, which only gets worse with time. He used to be able
to feed himself and speak, but he has lost those abilities.

He can no longer walk consistently and frequently falls.

As a result, Garrett's parents have had to rush him to the emergency
room repeatedly for stitches and other medical treatment.

Garrett can't run, climb steps or jump like a normal 3-year-old. He
receives occupational, physical and speech therapy, but makes no real
progress in any of these areas as the Dravet's continues to run its
often fatal course.

In an effort to ameliorate the seizures as much as possible, Garrett
is on a highly toxic and addictive three-drug regimen. These drugs are
known to cause liver damage.

One of them is not covered by insurance and costs the Brann family
thousands of dollars per year.

The treatment that could help Garrett is known as "Charlotte's Web",
named after the first little girl with Dravet's whom it helped.
Charlotte suffered from near constant seizures.

Nothing seemed to
help until she was given the marijuana-based oil. The results were
miraculous. Her seizures went from hundreds per week to less than
one. She is now developing normally and has regained much of what she
lost when she was seizing all the time. Similar results have now been
seen in dozens of children with Dravet's. If you are interested in
seeing Dr. Sanjay Gupta's full report on Charlotte's Web on CNN, you
can go to: Http:// com/watch?v=CiShwotFJR8.

The miracle treatment is a tincture or oil that comes from a certain,
specific strain of marijuana.

It is important to know that marijuana contains two active

The first is tetrahydrocannabinol or "THC". This is the part of the
marijuana plant that is an intoxicant and makes you high. The other
active compound is known as cannabidiol or "CBD", which cannot make
you high at all. The specific strain of marijuana used to create
Charlotte's Web is packed with CBD and contains almost no THC. So the
oil that could help Garrett cannot and will not make Garrett
intoxicated in any way.

If Charlotte's Web came from a yucca plant or bacteria grown in a
laboratory, it would be an absolute no-brainer. It would be easily
available in every CVS or Rite-Aid in America. But because it comes
from marijuana, the plant that dare not speak its name, no child in
Pennsylvania can obtain, possess or use it. Garrett's parents can fly
to Colorado, establish residency, buy the oil and bring it back to
Pennsylvania, but if they do they risk arrest and felony

This is an insane policy.

A few drops of a simple oil can potentially save a young boy's life
(and the lives of many others like him). The oil is not addictive, not
intoxicating, and has no side effects. There is no rational reason to
deny this child the medicine he needs. The only thing that stands
between Garrett and a normal life is fear of a word... marijuana.

For some reason, that word has the same effect on many policymakers in
Harrisburg and Washington as Kryptonite has on Superman; it causes
them to lose their ability to think clearly and forces them to flee in

We must overcome this superstitious and unreasoning way of thinking.
It is causing people to suffer needlessly, either with symptoms that
could be eased, or with the side effects of drugs far more toxic and
dangerous than Charlotte's Web could ever be. There is a little boy's
life at stake.

Would our thoughtless policy on medical marijuana make sense if
Garrett was your son?
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