Pubdate: Wed, 04 Jan 2017
Source: Hartford Courant (CT)
Copyright: 2017 The Hartford Courant


Fighting Epilepsy: Should Children Be Given Controversial Cannabis Oil?'

Kim Hearn believes marijuana plant oil can help her 10-year-old son, who
has epilepsy.

Each morning, Kim Hearn attaches a feeding tube to her son before
outfitting him in specialized clothes that lend support to his torso,
ankles and legs. A seizure often disrupts the process. It's a rigorous
routine for this Stratford mom but it's nothing, she says, compared to
what the 10-year-old, who can't speak or sit on his own, endures: "Sean
just accepts it."

As a baby, Sean was diagnosed with Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, a form of
epilepsy. A dozen medications have failed to reduce the 30-plus seizures
Sean experiences every day. Each episode is damaging to the boy, already
frail. Hearn believes there could be an answer: an oil made from marijuana
plants called Charlotte's Web.

"Charlotte's Web -- I've heard -- has done miracles for children. It's
either stopped seizures or significantly reduced seizures," says Hearn,
during Epilepsy Awareness Month, in an effort to educate the public about
this oil, which cannot be administered legally to kids in Connecticut.

A young girl, Charlotte Figi, who was battling severe epilepsy, had
dramatically fewer seizures while taking the special strain of cannabis
that is low in THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Her
home state, Colorado, became the first to legalize the oil for children,
who must be residents and have approval from two doctors. Since 2013, more
children have flourished on the oil. Connecticut law does not allow
children under 18 access to medical marijuana.

Bob Fiore, president of Connecticut Epilepsy Advocate, believes that term
- -- medical marijuana -- is a turn-off, preventing the public from truly
understanding Charlotte's Web, which he calls "cannabis oil for epilepsy."

"This is not a recreational medication," he says. "It's there to help
people with epilepsy."

For the second time, he has submitted a bill to be considered by
legislators that would include children in the state's marijuana laws and
allow Charlotte's Web to be delivered here.

"They ... won't have my support," says Sen. Toni Boucher of Wilton, who
believes the use of marijuana can be the beginning of drug abuse. "This
action is dangerous and irresponsible. It is fact and accepted by medical
experts and all sides that marijuana permanently damages the young,
growing brain."

Although there is little scientific evidence, the American Academy of
Pediatrics recently reversed it's stand, publicly stating that cannabis
could be a treatment option for kids with severely debilitating illnesses.

Hearn is on a mission to rally support: "Parents need to be given the
right to be able to purchase Charlotte's Web over the phone and have it
mailed to them." She wonders if her son could make developmental strides
if he took the oil, a question that stays with her every day: "We've tried
everything else, we've got to keep trying. I will never give up on Sean."
- ---
MAP posted-by: