The medicinal chemical in marijuana is not the same chemical which causes hallucinations, so when Justin and Annie Koozer heard that an organization in Colorado was developing a type of medicinal marijuana with less THC, they hoped it might work on their daughter. Two-year-old Piper has a rare form of epilepsy, and recent cases have indicated that marijuana may help lessen the frequency and severity of seizures. The only problem was that they lived in Tennessee, where medical marijuana is illegal.
With their daughter’s life on the line, they decided to leave. They moved to Colorado where the highest profile success story for the treatment of epilepsy with marijuana had recently taken place. Once skeptical of medical marijuana themselves, they left their home, friends and family behind to pursue a possible treatment for their daughter, who had been suffering nearly 300 spasms a day – with episodes lasting up to half an hour – since she was six months old. They’d had no success with any other treatments.
The marijuana is administered in oil which Piper eats, and her seizures have now reduced in severity and frequency to a handful of single spasms per day. The results so far have been life changing for Piper and multiple children in her same situation. Organizations in Washington have had similar success using a tincture of marijuana with the THC removed.
Medical marijuana has also had unprecedented success in treating pain from cancer, fibromyalgia and other chronic diseases and conditions. Unlike opiates – which are made from the same plants as heroin – it shows no real signs of being addictive, especially with the THC removed. Unlike acetaminophen, it doesn’t pose a risk to the liver. Though medical marijuana is a controversial for some, many people find relief from the substance they can find nowhere else.
People abuse prescription painkillers already. Narcotics are already opium based, and retain much more of their psychoactive power than marijuana does with its THC reduced or removed, and opiates are much more dangerous drugs than marijuana. Even cocaine is legal for some medicinal purposes. The potential for abuse of marijuana is further reduced by the ability to eliminate THC, so even states skeptical of people’s motivations for seeking medicinal marijuana, or skeptical of the legalization of recreational marijuana, can simply regulate the amount of THC allowed in marijuana-based medications.
I asked Koozer how the treatment has helped his daughter so far.
“The frequency of spasms has been reduced, but the overall intensity has decreased,” Koozer said.
“Here is a medication that is plant derived. It doesn’t show any side effects. We are having extremely good success. We are looking at the original 35 kids who were on it. The research results show that 80 percent of those kids showed a 50 percent reduction without harmful side effects,” Koozer said.
Koozer said, “Those who are skeptical wonder why I don’t resort to a pharmaceutical option. What people don’t think about is that every epileptic drug on the market has severe side effects: sleeplessness, increased seizures, liver and kidney failure, unexplained death, and vision loss is one of the major ones.”
Koozer believes that the natural properties derived from cannabis have a lot to offer compared to the harmful side effects of other pharmaceutical drugs.
Though people may be skeptical of legalizing marijuana for recreational use, there should be no question about legalizing it for medicinal purposes. It doesn’t make sense that the least stigmatized drug for recreational use should be the most stigmatized for medical purposes. This is a substance which has the power to save the lives of children, cancer patients, fibromyalgia sufferers and more. Furthermore, the psychoactive component can be removed using a variety of methods, not only reducing those effects in young children and other users, but also reducing the motivation for abuse of the system or the drug.
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