Desperate parents across the Country who have children suffering with uncontrollable epilepsy are clamoring for more information on a marijuana strain rich in cannabidiol (CBD) – the major non-psychoactive ingredient in Cannabis, as the positive outcomes for many children using the treatment spreads throughout the media.

The serious long- term effects that accompany the use of anti-epileptic drugs and a lifetime of intractable seizures cannot be ignored. Despite the critics instilling fear that CBD-rich cannabis extracts can increase the risk of serious psychiatric disorders and long-term cognitive problems. The successful results that many patients suffering from epilepsy have been experiencing from CBD-rich cannabis extracts, such as a dramatic decrease in the number and frequency of seizures is therefore giving so many parents what they have been lacking for so long – hope.

While there may be some harmful effects from these CBD-rich cannabis extracts, they must be weighed against the very real dangers and challenges a constantly seizing child faces every day. Many people with severe epilepsy have tried a myriad of mind-numbing medications, brain surgeries, risky implanted electrical stimulation devices, diets and alternative therapies, with little to no relief of their symptoms. A child who has no other treatments left to try has some parents moving to States that offer legal CBD treatments.

Scientists and physicians have been quick to warn of the dangers of the marijuana extract because CBD use in people with epilepsy has yet to be clinically evaluated, due in part to the tight restriction the FDA and DEA have placed on cannabis and its compounds. It is currently classified as a Schedule 1 drug – the strictest level of regulation for a controlled substance.

We at GLHS & The Center for Compassion we believe that there must be more research done on cannabis rich in CBD. Currently, regulatory hurdles make it difficult for researchers to gain access to cannabis rich in CBD, but it is not impossible. There is no debate that the hoops researchers must jump through to obtain access to cannabis, or any chemical found in it, are hindering scientific advancement, while GLHS and The Center for Compassion is committed to helping researchers overcome these obstacles to advance research in this important area.

GLHS and Center for Compassion recognizes that CBD and/or medical marijuana are not an answer for all children with epilepsy. Much more needs to be done to find treatments and a cure for all forms of epilepsy, which affects more people than multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and Parkinson’s combined – yet receives fewer federal dollars per patient than each of these. But parents and researchers are cautiously optimistic that this may be a promising new treatment on the horizon for some people. In fact, in true scientific spirit, scientists would no doubt desire to test not only pure CBD, but also high CBD/low THC cannabis, pure THC and other types of medical marijuana in epilepsy in order to clearly define the efficacy of these and other combinations on seizure control and the genesis of epilepsy.

Unfortunately, time is not on the side of many of these children with unrelenting seizures. Of course parents are going to do anything they can to help their children, even face the unknown, because the effects of long term, uncontrolled seizures are known – continued regression, intellectual disability, and even death. Safety and efficacy studies will take years to complete, and rightly so, but until then, compassionate use should be made available to the families suffering from severe, intractable epilepsy.

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