The Conversation

Parents Turning to Marijuana for Sick Children

Tina DeSilvio is just one of many parents treating their children's illnesses with marijuana. DeSilvio's daughter Jenna, ingests marijuana oil several times a day to control her violent seizures. 

DeSilvio, who once sat on the Franklin Township school board, says she will do whatever it takes to control Jenna's frequent and sometimes violent convulsions. Jenna, who wears a pink helmet, already takes two prescribed narcotics and as well as a third drug to treat a genetic brain disorder.

Peggy Kerswell of Bergen County makes an oil out of the marijuana for her 9 year-old daughter who has epilepsy and autism. "The seizures are awful. And when you put a child with epilepsy to bed and open the door the next day, you never know what you're going to face. That's why I feel comfortable pushing the envelope and trying to help her."

After reports that a new strain of marijuana called "Charlotte's Web" was reported to reduce seizures in some children, parents are using it to help their children.  Some parents are moving to Colorado to have easier access to the medicine. 

The parents of New Jersey's youngest marijuana patient are moving there his month. Brian and Meghan Wilson, the parents of 2-year-old Vivian, who has life-threatening epilepsy, pressured Gov. Christie last summer to sign a bill that would lift the ban on edibles and loosen other restrictions so children could more easily obtain marijuana.

Though Christie signed the bill, other obstacles cropped up, and Christie said recently that he would veto any other bill that "expands the program." In October, the Wilsons obtained cannabis from the Compassionate Care Foundation in Egg Harbor Township, but after they changed it into an oil, with the help of a CCF expert, they decided against giving it to Vivian. They said the state Health Department would not test the oil for potency, which would have helped determine the dose.

DeSilvio vows to keep fighting for access for her daughter. "He [Christie] sees us as these hippies who just want peace, love, and happiness," she said. "But I'm just a mom who's desperate."


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