COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (WNCN) – There are families in North Carolina who have uprooted their lives and moved to Colorado all in an effort to help their children suffering from epilepsy. They moved to use an oil extract from the marijuana plant used to reduce seizures.
Many people have started to move to the Rocky Mountain State for that extract, called CBD oil, including two families from North Carolina.
The Gorman family from Raleigh and the Morleys from Wilmington packed up their lives and moved to Colorado because no other treatments were working. They heard of Charlotte’s Web through other families with epileptic children. It’s CBD oil developed by a non-profit called, “Realm of Caring.”
Charlotte’s Web is low in tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and high in CBD, cannibidiol. THC is the psychoactive element in marijuana that gives a user a high.
The Gorman’s daughter Maddie has Lennox-Gastaut syndrome a form of childhood-onset epilepsy.
“If we thought there was a treatment in Siberia that was going to help Maddie, we’d go there,” said Liz Gorman.
Dylan Morley’s daughter also has Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.
“What parent wouldn’t want to give their child that opportunity,” Dylan Morley said.
Gorman said she has tried nearly every thing to help her daughter, including antiepileptic drugs, kidogenic diet and brain surgery.
“When something fails your child, you feel like you were the failure that chose the wrong option,” she said.
When Gorman heard about Charlotte’s Web, she decided to move away from her husband, parents, and her support system in order to help Maddie.
“When we first relocated out here in December, she was close to having a hundred seizures a day again and 20 of them were dangerous,” she said.
But many of her daughter’s seizures almost entirely went away as soon as Maddie started being treated with Charlotte’s Web.
Maddie is now able to do things she wasn’t able to do before, like remembering lessons she learned from therapy.
Dylan Morley said the move to Colorado has been worth it for his daughter Mia.
“You take the leap of faith hoping that it’s going to work for you and you’re going to be the one that maybe it’s not successful for. But so far the move has been worth it,” he said.
Mia is given Charlotte’s Web orally several times a day.
Charlotte’s Web alchemist Jesse Stanley said the results from the CBD oil have been extraordinary.
“Plain and simple, it’s really good medicine,” Stanley said.
He brews Charlotte’s Web out of a lab in Denver but the marijuana plant is grown about an hour outside the city.
Colorado voters passed an amendment legalizing medical marijuana in state in 2000. But it wasn’t until Jan. 1 that recreational use of marijuana became legal in Colorado. Washington state has passed legislation making the recreation use of marijuana legal but shops will not open until later this summer.
Governors of five states have signed bills into law allowing CBD oil to be properly administered to eligible recipients. Often, children with epilepsy are eligible to be treated with CBD oil in these five states.
Some doctors in Colorado are worried about the implications of widespread use, especially with medical marijuana.
Some, like Dr. Amy Brooks, chief of pediatric neurology at the Children’s Hospital Colorado, said there needs to be more research.
“I don’t know anything about short-term problems, like risks of injury to the liver, or risks to the blood count,” she said. “And I know nothing about short term or long term effects of the development of the brain.”
Brooks said there are anecdotal reports that potentially have hope that the drug could be successful for some children. But she said there is a lot of evidence of potential risks.
She said she cannot prescribe Charlotte’s Web and recommend it for families until more research is completed.
Dr. Alan Shackleford disagrees. He believes Charlotte’s Web is safe.
“We have had a very success and long interaction with cannabis that most people don’t know about. The use of cannabis to treat seizures is ancient. The first recorded use was in 1464 in Baghdad,” Shackleford said.
Clinical research on marijuana is almost impossible because it is labeled as a Schedule 1 drug by the federal government, along with heroin, LSD and ecstasy.
Liz Gorman knows there are risks involved with giving her child Charlotte’s Web.
But studies or no studies, Charlotte’s Web is working for the Gormans and the Morleys when other medications have failed.
This is what will keep both families in Colorado until legislation is passed is North Carolina that could bring them home.
There are some North Carolina lawmakers, like Rep. Pat McElraft (R-Carteret, Jones), who will be introducing legislation this short session that will allow the use CBD oil, like Charlotte’s Web. In the past, a more general law for medical marijuana has been struck down before it had a chance to go up for a vote. Those were sponsored by Rep. Kelly Alexander.