Some parents are turning to cannabidiol (CBD) oil, a cannabis extract with little or none of the psychoactive compound THC, to treat their children who have cancer and epilepsy.
The oil is currently legal in more than a dozen U.S. states, but the supply is limited. In “Cannabis for Kids” produced by National Geographic, a few parents share their experiences navigating the uncertainties of medical marijuana in America as they try to help their children.
Part 1 – “Our hands were tied.” Millie’s Story
Penn and Nicole Mattison’s daughter, Millie, has infantile spasms with hypsarrhythmia, a form of epilepsy. By the time she was four months old she was having upwards of 700 seizures a day. The Mattisons tried numerous medications and diet plans, but Millie didn’t improve. After her doctors said they’d tried everything they could, the Mattisons looked to Colorado for an alternative treatment.
Part 2 – “We have to be the guinea pigs.” Sophie’s Story
Tracy and Josh Ryan’s daughter, Sophie, was a typical eight-month-old girl until the day her eye began twitching. An MRI showed that she had an optic pathway glioma brain tumor. Given how young she was, the only option was to begin chemotherapy, though the Ryans were told that the tumor would probably shrink only slightly. Convinced that the chemotherapy wasn’t doing enough, they began to research other options.
Part 3 – “It’s like we’re meeting her for the first time.” Lily’s Story
Sarah and David Rowland’s daughter Lily began having seizures when she was just six months old. Diagnosed with a severe case of epilepsy, she continued to have 200 to 300 seizures a day despite heavy medication. When the Ryans were told that the only other option was brain surgery, they began investigating alternative treatments in Colorado.