Pubdate: Sun, 24 Nov 2013
Source: Times Herald, The (Norristown, PA)
Copyright: 2013 The Times Herald
Author: Daylin Leach
Note: State Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Dist. 17) has drafted S.B. 1182 with 
Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Dist. 48) which would legalize the use of medical 
cannabis in Pa.


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 frightening and damaging 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 Dravet's continues to run its often fatal 
course. In an effort to ameliorate the seizures as much as possible, 
Garrett is currently 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, like Garrett, suffered from near constant 
seizures. Also like Garrett, nothing seemed to help Charlotte 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: 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 compounds. 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 stoned or 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 prosecution.

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 terror. 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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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom