Commentary: Cannabis oil has given Utah children a chance at a normal life

In this Monday, Nov. 6, 2017, photo, a syringe loaded with a dose of CBD oil is shown in a research laboratory at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo. People anxious to relieve suffering in their pets are increasingly turning to oils and powders that contain CBDs, a non-psychoactive component of marijuana. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

It’s the day of our family’s 2017 Thanksgiving feast. The kitchen is all hustle and bustle, but the patter of feet has stopped the commotion. All eyes have fallen to the ground.

With the help of her uncle, 1-year-old KaseyAnn is walking. She has had the opportunity to develop as any other child would. Her daily seizures have gone down significantly and are no longer a daily struggle.

CBD oil, or cannabidiol, an oil derived from cannabis or industrial hemp, is to thank for her recovery from her seizures. Like most children who have used this oil, KaseyAnn has been given the chance to a normal life. CBD oil, while effective in many patients, has not been enough for a select few who are in need of a stronger dose of medicine.

Advocacy by the state for a larger range of medical marijuana access not only helps those who combat seizures or epileptic episodes but also eases chronic pain and can even help people end cigarette addiction. Currently, the state of medical marijuana treatment in Utah has been limited to research and the only option for patients has been restricted forms of CBD oil.

In accordance with Utah law, patients who have not had success with three other forms of treatment are able to be granted cardholder status for the purchase of CBD oil. This specific oil that can be purchased must be at least 5 percent Cannabinoid oil (CBD), less than 0.3 percent THC, and cannot contain any other psychoactive substance. For some, this may not be enough, depending on the severity of the case. In KaseyAnn’s current state, the dose of cannabinoid oil she is being given has helped but she is only 1, and if this treatment does not continue to work she will have nowhere else to turn. Advocacy by the state for a full range of medical marijuana is what these patients need.

Before CBD oil was legalized in Utah for medicinal use in 2014, many patients and their families turned to Colorado in order to get their child what they needed. Fast forward to 2018. According to a Nov. 15 story in The Salt Lake Tribune, a ballot for medical legalization of a larger range of medical marijuana has been proposed. According to UtahPolicy.com, 74 percent of Utahns are for the legalization, 63 percent of those Utahns are Mormon. Despite what the church says about the research of medical marijuana most agree that it has been studied enough and legalization is the next step.

With the research that the Mormon Church has pushed for, with the help of many other researchers, the medical effects of medicinal marijuana have been shown to have risks and benefits. Many people now shy away from the legalized prescription of opioids or other medicines that also contain risks, that can become addictive, and yet are still considered legal.

For those not only suffering from seizures but also from chronic pain, cancer or even addiction, the legalization of medicinal marijuana is the first step in helping these patients progress towards a better life. The research has been done and, while the continuation of research is also something we should focus on, withholding medicinal marijuana from patients who need it is only causing them to seek it elsewhere, or suffer while they wait for its legalization.

Meanwhile, 1-year-old KaseyAnn has progressed from hospital beds and feeding tubes to eating yogurt and walking. Without this treatment, seizures and spasms would have affected her brain activity. Would she have even been able to crawl or talk without her CBD oil? I say no. Give her a few months and I believe we won’t be able to keep up with her.

Arianna Jimenez

Arianna Jimenez, Riverton, is a senior studying strategic communication at the University of Utah.