Pubdate: Wed, 06 May 2015
Source: Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Copyright: 2015 The Commercial Appeal
Author: Dave Boucher


Could Be Rx for Kids' Seizures

It's now legal to use cannabis oil for limited medical purposes in Tennessee.

And the Mathes family is ready. The East Tennessee family already had 
the oil and a recommendation from a doctor before Monday. Their 
1-year-old daughter, Josie, still has the seizures that have plagued 
her short life.

They just needed Gov. Bill Haslam to give final approval to arguably 
Tennessee's first broader step toward legalizing a marijuana product 
for medicinal use.

That moment came Monday, when, as expected, Haslam signed a law that 
legalized the controversial medical measure.

"We're very, very happy that we can get started and see some 
improvements and get the nasty medicines behind us," Josie's mother, 
Stacie Mathes, said Monday afternoon.

The Matheses started giving Josie the cannabis oil as soon as they 
got the word the bill was signed. There's no guarantee it works, and 
even if it does it will take time. But the new law provides hope.

"As parents, you want some miracles. And you know in some cases it 
will stop seizures pretty quick," Stacie Mathes said.

"We're hopeful that we can get them under control. ... We're happy with that."

The new law allows patients who suffer from seizures or epilepsy and 
received a recommendation from a doctor to use cannabis oil. The law 
takes effect immediately.

"I'm going to trust people like John Dreyzehner, our commissioner (of 
the Tennessee Department of Health), in terms of the fears that he 
has around medical marijuana and some of the issues there versus 
cannabis oil, which he feels like can help some people in very 
specific situations," Haslam told reporters in Franklin after 
confirming he signed the bill Monday morning.

Advocates point to studies and patients in other states who have 
responded positively from the use of cannabis oil. The product has 
helped some patients suffering from hundreds of seizures a day where 
other medications have failed.

The bill doesn't allow people to purchase the oil made in Tennessee, 
but Stacie Mathes said she got her oil from Colorado, one of 23 
states where some form of medical marijuana is legal. She said she 
knows other Tennessee parents are looking to possibly get oil from 
California as well.

Josie suffers from infantile seizures and has not responded as well 
as hoped to other medications the Matheses have used in the past. 
Stacie Mathes said Josie takes more than 30 milliliters of medication 
every day, combating the seizures to a point but leaving behind the 
shell of a child.

"She's been in a funk. She's been doped up with these medications, so 
if she can come to life, she has a much better chance of developing," 
Stacie Mathes said.

With the cannabis oil, Josie will need to take 0.14 milliliters given 
to her orally three times a day. She won't be able to stop taking the 
other medications right away; because of the strengths of the 
medication, Stacie Mathes said it may take up to a year to wean Josie 
off the medications to avoid painful withdrawal symptoms.

The new law is limited in nature. Haslam and other supporters argue 
it's not the first step toward legalizing marijuana for recreation 
use, but there is certainly a push in Tennessee toward a broader 
legalization of medical marijuana.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom