Pubdate: Mon, 11 May 2015
Source: Hamilton Spectator (CN ON)
Copyright: 2015 The Hamilton Spectator
Author: Liam Casey
Page: A8


Gwenevere Repetski turns three next month and she is finally able to
crawl, a milestone her parents thought they would never see..

She was just an infant when she was diagnosed with epilepsy, a
debilitating neurological disorder that has left her developmentally

"She was kind of like a bag of Jell-O," says her mother, Reagan

When she was two, she could hardly roll over when she was placed on
her back, adds her father, Alex.

Disappointed at the lack of treatment options, Alex dove down the
research rabbit hole. That's when he first read articles about the
success some people said they were having in reducing epileptic
seizures with cannabidiol, one of several active cannabinoids found in
the marijuana plant.

Cannabidiol, or CBD, doesn't cause a high and, when mixed with an oil,
has been widely touted as a potential therapy for hard-to-treat forms
of epilepsy. But many doctors say there's little evidence to show if
the compound is effective or safe.

Dr. Orrin Devinsky, a researcher at New York University's Langone
Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, has done a safety study on the use of
an extract of cannabidiol.

Devinsky looked at the daily seizure logs of 137 patients, most of
them children, who took a drug called Epidiolex - a purified form of
CBD - for three months.

The number of seizures decreased by an average of 54 per cent from the
beginning of the study to the end, Devinsky reported last month at an
American Academy of Neurology conference.

"These results are of great interest, especially for the children and
their parents who have been searching for an answer for these
debilitating seizures," he said. However, he cautioned that there's no
way to tell how much of the seizure reduction was due to the placebo
effect in which the person's condition improves because they expect
the drug to work.

Alex Repetski says research and drug approvals take a long time - time
his daughter doesn't have.

While extracting oil from marijuana is illegal in Canada, new
legislation allows the development of the medical marijuana industry.
After the new law went into effect in March 2014, the Repetskis found
a doctor who authorized the use of pot for their daughter.

There was still one problem: Gwen couldn't smoke or vaporize the pot,
so her father learned how to make marijuana oil in his kitchen. He now
gives it to his daughter three times a day. She hasn't had a seizure
since, he says.
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