Two mothers in different states are looking for help with their son's seizures. As of this morning, only one has been successful.
In Salt Lake City, Utah, Jennifer May's 11-year-old son, Stockton, suffers from Dravet syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy. It is the same illness that New Jersey - based Brian Wilson confronted Gov. Chris Christie at a campaign stop, saying, "Please don't let my daughter die." Christie signed off on NJ legislation a week later allowing marijuana to be distributed in edible form and permits growers to cultivate more than three strains.
Jennifer May is a Republican who once thought giving medical marijuana to children was madness. Now, she's pushing for a state law that would allow the use of a liquid form of medical marijuana available in Colorado that she believes is helping children with the same syndrome.
"We don't think it's a cure, we don't expect it to be a miracle," she told the Associated Press. "It just needs to be something we can try for our kids that don't have anything left. I want to see if this can even give my child a quality of life for a few years."
Utah's Republican-led legislature has traditionally been opposed to efforts to decriminalize marijuana.
The key to changing that, says Connor Boyack, president of the Libertas Institute, is for more people to come forth with their stories as to why it is important to them. "It is easy to oppose this when you think it's people getting high and people pretending that they're sick," Boyack said. "It's much harder to deny people this medical option when you know the specific circumstances of their story and how much relief it might bring them."
The legislation will be introduced in the next session that starts in January.
Meanwhile, in Arizona, 5-year-old Zander Welton has been approved for medical marijuana to help treat his cortical dysplasia, a genetic defect that disrupts cellular patterns in the brain and is often the cause of epilepsy.
Zander had his first seizure when he was 9 months old and now has them weekly. His parents, Jennifer and Jacob Welton of Mesa, Ariz., told ABC News that they had tried multiple treatments, including various medications, brain surgery and even shock therapy.
When Jennifer and Jacob Welton saw videos of other children who appeared to be thriving after they’d been treated with medical marijuana, they pursued a medical marijuana card for Zander, and eventually found a doctor who was willing to treat Zander’s epilepsy that way.
Zander is not the first child under 18 to receive a medical marijuana card in Arizona. Currently, 39 other minors in the state have medical marijuana cards, according to the Arizona Department of Health. To qualify for the program, two doctors must approve treatment, the minor’s parent or guardian must be designated as a caregiver to receive the medical marijuana card and the designated caregiver must live with the patient.
“I wouldn’t even be thinking about this if it didn’t do something beneficial for him,” Jennifer Welton said. “I don’t want him stoned. I just want him better.”