For years, families with young children have been torn apart by the horrors that come with the violent, uncontrollable seizures of epilepsy.
The affliction comes in many forms. Some bring a sense of hopelessness and despair with no light in sight at the end of a lifelong tunnel. Just two decades ago, the first state to recognize the benefits of medical cannabis, California, voted to give people an opportunity to try an alternative to the traditional pharmaceutical medications on the market. Now, as more of the country roots into the truth behind this magical botanical, more and more families are elevating their voices to share their inspirational stories of triumph with the world, hopefully to aid in giving the rest of our nation a shove in the right direction.
Minnesota had a HUGE year in 2014, when both the Senate and House approved legalizing medical cannabis in the state. Gov. Mark Dayton signed the bill into law on May 29th of that year, and it took effect the next day. This was a huge confidence booster to families all over the state, including the Weavers, who were literally on the front lines, pushing to make this possible in their own back yard.
Amelia Weaver is a beautiful 10-year-old girl who had the promise of a bright future stolen from her when she was still an infant. At that time she was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of epilepsy. She was one of just 150 children in the world to be a victim of Dravet syndrome SCN2a. The condition rocked Amelia’s very existence and quality of life each time a seizure jolted her tiny body. Backed into a corner and facing tremendous odds, Josh and Angie Weaver subjected their daughter to the pharmaceutical drugs they hoped would be the answer.
Alternative medicine needed
Unfortunately, as is so often the case with Dravet syndrome, the toxic cocktail of drugs didn’t work. As the years progressed, Amelia’s conditioned worsened to the point where she lost her ability to both speak and walk. The family decided to seek an alternative solution to their problems. Instead of jumping ship to a state like Colorado, which had already found great success with medical cannabis for children with severe forms of epilepsy, they stood their ground in Hibbing, to help ensure that the opportunity could be afforded to anyone else in the North Star State who needed it.
The Duluth News Tribune interviewed Andrew Bachman, an emergency room physician who will soon co-found LeafLine Labs, a distributor and grower of medicinal cannabis. Dr. Bachman said, “I remember being so moved and impacted by someone who simply believed in this being right and instead of taking the easy road, certainly took the road less traveled by. Rather than becoming a medical refugee and treating her daughter by moving to Colorado, she stayed and fought. She is an absolute hero to me.” LeafLine would later play a very large role in the family’s success story.
Things are looking up
Over time, Amelia became somewhat of a “poster child” for the fight for cannabis freedom. The journey was a series of peaks and valleys as the emotional and physical rollercoaster brought them closer to their goal. Amelia and her mother became familiar faces in the community and often participated in TV interviews to help drive their message home. “I definitely found out that, while I always want to continue fighting for my daughter, politics is very difficult, and I don’t really have a rose-colored view of politics anymore,” Mrs. Weaver told the Duluth News Tribune. But all their hard work eventually paid off, and Amelia as well as others were able to get the treatment they deserved.
The wonderful cannabidiol (CBD)-rich preparation called “Cobalt” that LeafLine Labs created for Amelia was exactly what the doctor ordered to literally get her back on her feet. It’s clear that Dr. Bachman has an awesome relationship with Amelia and her parents, and is totally open to working with them every step of the way. On the LeafLine website you’ll find Amelia featured right on the home page with her inspirational story of recovery.
Amelia’s special medicine
Amelia takes her medicine three times daily and has begun walking, smiling, and attempting to communicate through signing and oral speech. In the same interview Angie said, “She was walking on her own in the house for the first time in years…She went 20 days without seizures. I think it’s the longest stretch she’s had since she was 4 years old.” Her parents have seen a drastic improvement in her quality of life and overall happiness, and that’s really what it’s all about. No parent wants to see their child robbed of that sparkle in the eyes, and they’ve begun to see it return, hopefully for good.
Cobalt costs the family roughly $300 a month at the moment, which in most cases is much less than what other families are charged for treatment of Dravet syndrome. There aren’t currently many insurance companies backing cannabis medicine as a treatment. As a result, many people find themselves footing the entire bill—another roadblock on the path to making cannabis an available and affordable treatment option for those who really need it. Until companies are willing to get behind the green movement, many will find themselves left with few options when it comes to seeking treatment. For people who have the cash for cannabis, there isn’t much to worry about. For others, it’s an itch they can’t scratch.
Weavers reveling in Amelia’s transformation
As people begin to view cannabis less as an “illegal street narcotic” and more as mainstream medicine, it’s likely that other states will come aboard like the other 24 that came before them. This in turn will open up the floodgates for more stories like Amelia’s to spill forth and inspire others.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to smoke cannabis or even experience the “high” associated with it to benefit from the herb. Amelia, for instance, takes her oral medication through a syringe. Nearly all tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which produces psychoactive effects, has been removed from her medicine. This allows Amelia to get the desired treatment without undesired side effects. (Doctors and scientists note that a small amount of THC complements and amplifies the therapeutic effects of CBD.) The faster that people and physicians educate themselves on how flexible cannabis really is, the sooner folks will have a real shot at healthier living.
When that day comes, you may need a little help from your friends at MagicalButter to make preparation of “medibles” a lot easier. The Botanical Extractor can save you the enormous effort and time needed to cook your medicine reliably and safely, and transform it into just about any usable form you might want. Make everything from infused butters and oils to tinctures and topicals at the push of a button, in the privacy of your own kitchen. The website has dozens of incredible cannabis recipes, super quick how-to videos, and how to get your own extractor.
Amelia isn’t the only epileptic child whose life has been transformed by the humble cannabis plant. The many success stories of triumph—over both debilitating disease and stubborn, backward bureaucracy—warm the heart and make it yearn for the day when adults in a free society have the freedom to choose with their doctor the medicine that best suits them and their family.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Garyn Angel is an inventor, entrepreneur, award-winning financial consultant, and CEO of MagicalButter.com, which manufactures the appliance he invented for converting cannabis to edible form. Angel is committed to cannabis law reform and was named to the CNBC NEXT List of global business leaders for his work on legal marijuana. He is also founder of the Cheers to Goodness Foundation, a charity that helps “medical refugees”—mainly veterans and children who need cannabis therapy when traditional treatment options have failed. Angel’s charity helps families relocate to states where cannabis medicine is legally accessible.