A six-year old girl in Ohio named Sophia suffers from uncontrollable seizures. She was denied the one medicine that might help: marijuana extract. A new video from the Drug Policy Alliance and Learn Liberty called Sophia’s Story tells the tale of this remarkable youngster who has endured ongoing and debilitating seizures since she was eight months old.
All legal treatments and medications have failed to treat her condition. The best hope for relieving her symptoms and allowing her to live a normal life, cannabidiol, or CBD oil (a non-psychoactive concentrate taken from the cannabis plant) is illegal in her home state of Ohio.
“We’ve tried everything else that they could possibly come up with to try and stop these seizures,” says Scott Nazzarine, Sophia’s father, in a press release. “None of it has worked. We need legislation that allows our child to get the medicine she needs.”
CBD, a cannabis derivative, is gaining popularity because it carries numerous therapeutic effects but does not cause the high of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the main active component of marijuana.
Medical marijuana is legal in 23 states plus the District of Columbia, although it remains illegal under federal law. An additional 13 states that do not allow medical marijuana have at least partially legalized CBD only, all in the last year, with more on the way. However, Ohio Governor John Kasich has indicated that he would not support medical marijuana and called the plant “a scourge in this country.”
That so-called scourge could be life-changing for the approximately one million people in the United States who suffer from epilepsy which is uncontrolled by medication.
Sophia had her first seizure in 2009 at 8 months and soon was up to 20 per day. By the time she was two, she was on four different medications and needed physical therapy to counteract their destructive side effects.
By June 2013, when other treatments failed to be effective, she underwent brain surgery, which removed a portion of her frontal right lobe. The procedure was effective — for a month and a half, until the seizures started again.
Despite even more surgery and shock treatments to her brain, the seizures continue. At this point, the marijuana-derived chemical could be her only remedy.
“The positive results that some people with epilepsy have been seeing from CBD-rich marijuana extracts are giving so many parents what they have been lacking for so long — hope,” states CureEpilepsy.org. “While there may be some harmful effects from these CBD-rich marijuana extracts, they must be weighed against the very real dangers and challenges a constantly seizing child faces every day — a child who has no other treatments left to try.”
In addition to its illegal status in many states, it’s also difficult to perform research on CBD because as a marijuana derivative it remains on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, defined as a drug with no medical benefits, and therefore is tightly restricted by the federal government.
Congress has introduced, and President Obama recently endorsed, a law loosening federal restrictions on medical cannabis to make it more accessible to patients nationwide, but when and if it might realistically pass is still an open question.
Once again, politics stands in the way of suffering patients and their medicine, and the result is part of a child’s brain is removed before she is permitted to try marijuana.
“I don’t even know Sophia without seizure medication . . . it would be really awesome to know her without those medicines,” Sophia’s mother says in the video. “We would like to try a plant that is natural.”
Watch Sophia’s Story below.