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Epilepsy Health Center

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When Medical Marijuana Doesn’t Work

Risk Is Worth It

The stories of other children whose seizures have improved have been retold across the media. Several parents who moved to Colorado for medical marijuana told WebMD earlier this year that the drug had drastically reduced their children’s seizures. Also, among those helped is Jackson’s son, Zaki. He has been seizure-free for 18 months taking Charlotte’s Web.

Jackson says Realm of Caring has helped more than 100 families from 43 states move to Colorado for the treatment.

Thanks to increased growing capacity, the organization expects marijuana producers to be able to provide Charlotte’s Web to the 1,000 patients from around the world now on a waiting list, beginning with the October harvest.

Margaret Gedde, MD, PhD, specializes in medical marijuana referrals and works with Realm of Caring. She says of the first 50 patients, 25% have had dramatic seizure reductions. Another 50% have had “some success.” This may include minor seizure reduction, improved appetite or mental abilities, or being able to wean off other medications.

The remaining 25%, she says, saw no improvement, and in some cases the seizures got worse.

Patients who are sensitive to medications, who have been on medications for a long time, or have liver damage are more likely to not respond to CBDs, she says.

“I’m heartened that, in the looks that I have, the majority of the kids seem to get a benefit, as incomplete as that may be,” she says.

Searching for Answers

There are 275 minors on Colorado’s medical marijuana registry. None of those referrals came from epilepsy specialists. Only a handful of doctors in Colorado are willing to prescribe marijuana, especially for children.

“I base my recommendations on science, and there’s no literature recommending this,” says Kelly Knupp, MD. She's a pediatric epilepsy specialist at Children’s Hospital Colorado. “I had heard the reports. It is not the experience we’re seeing here at Children’s Hospital.”

It’s a sentiment echoed by other epilepsy specialists in Colorado, who believe only 1 in 4 patients is seeing any seizure reduction, based on talks with families who have acknowledged trying the therapy.

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