Pubdate: Sat, 01 Nov 2014
Source: New Zealand Herald (New Zealand)
Copyright: 2014 New Zealand Herald
Author: Hannah Norton
Page: A19


Medical Marijuana in US Is Giving 7- Year- Old Kiwi Better Seizure 
Control and Motor Skills, Says Her Mother

Hannah Norton For the first time in seven years, Jessika Guest feels 
like she is getting to know her daughter Jade.

Since trialling medical marijuana in Colorado, seven-year-old Jade's 
seizures have dropped from 30 to 40 a day to five or less, and from 
30 seconds each time to three or five seconds.

"[ It] has been a big success," Mrs Guest said.

"As a mum it's been amazing to watch because I feel for the first 
time in seven years I'm getting to know my daughter."

The Whangarei-based Guest family had to be torn apart in order to 
access the drug for Jade, with Mrs Guest, Jade and her 8- year-old 
brother Ethan heading to Colorado in July. Mrs Guest's husband, and 
the children's father, Brendan Guest remains in Whangarei working as 
a truck driver.

"It is very hard on him with us gone, especially missing out on these 
great changes with Jade," Mrs Guest said.

Jade's diagnoses include hypotonia ( a state of low muscle tone), 
global developmental delay and epilepsy, which used to leave her 
having seizures up to 40 times a day.

Since August, when she qualified for a US medical card allowing her 
access to cannabis medicine, Jade has been on skin patches containing 
cannabinoids and tetrahydrocannabinolic acid - a form of nonactivated 
THC which means the cannabis does not have high-inducing properties.

Jade is also allowed to have six marijuana plants for her medical use.

Mrs Guest has noticed a huge change in Jade, including better seizure 
control, better cognitive function - including fine motor skills - 
and better digestion.

"Now she is holding things with t wo hands, sitting up instead of 
slouching in her wheelchair, reaching out when she wants to be picked 
up - things she didn't do before. She used to sleep a lot because of 
the pharmaceutical drugs.

"Her cognitive abilities have improved - [ she's] smiling more, 
giggling now, holding on to me when I carry her, [ making] new 
sounds, more happy and aware of her surroundings and playing with 
toys she never cared for before.

"My life has improved a lot now I get to see miraculous improvements 
in Jade instead of watching her struggle to learn and be happy 
because of the drugs she was on. I know she's happy and enjoying life 
and that makes me very happy."

But Mrs Guest is still missing something major in her life - her husband.

"Eventually he will come here unless laws change in New Zealand.

"Because of federal laws, we are not allowed to take cannabis out of the state.

"There are thousands of families who have moved here for this 
treatment, many splitting their families to legally access cannabis."

In August a spokesman for Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne did 
not discount the idea of trialling medical marijuana in New Zealand.

"It's up to the manufacturer to seek government approval for a 
particular product," the spokesman said.

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