Special Report: Medical marijuana bill gives family new hope

By Alyssa Donovan

May 12, 2014 Updated May 12, 2014 at 10:54 PM CDT

Some parents face a daily struggle, trying to help their kids with severe seizures.

While some medications can help, they don’t work for everyone.
But in the last few years, a new alternative appears to help some children.

However the struggle continues for their parents.

Marijuana, a drug that is associated with smoking and getting high.

But for medicinal purposes it’s broken down into THC, which is the mind altering substance, and CBD a non-psycho active oil.

“There are so many kids in Colorado having success with the CBD oil,” said Marissa Arevalo who has a daughter who suffers from seizures.

Arevalo watches her two year old daughter fight through several seizures a day.

“Rocio at two months old started having infantile spasms which is a catastrophic seizure disorder. It has robber her of any typical development,” said Arevalo.

Rocio is much like a newborn. She can’t hold a bottle and she can’t play with toys.

When Illinois legalized medical marijuana in August of last year, Arevalo saw new hope for her daughter, but it was short lived.

Legal restrictions made Rocio and others with seizure disorders unable to receive CBD.

“It was devastating. My first though was how could this be? How can this be? What is the point of passing it with so many restrictions especially with children? Children who have no voices and can’t stand up for themselves?” said Arevalo.

But a new bill has restored that hope. The legislation unanimously passed a committee hearing last week. But things could change when it is presented to the full house.

“I did not support the initial legislation because I did not have input from the medical community to tell me to do so. I had law enforcement telling me no and few physicians telling me no that’s not what they prefer,” said Keith Sommer, State Representative (R) 106th District.

But parents argue that traditional medications have drawbacks.

“The pharmaceutical meds that are approved for my child have terrible side affects,” said Arevalo.

“A lot of things just don’t work and once you try more than 3 pharma meds you have a less than 1-percent chance at controlling the seizures,” said Adam Frederick whose daughter is taking the medical marijuana treatment.

Frederick testified at the hearing last week on behalf of his 2 year old daughter Michaela.

The family moved to Colorado last year to have access to medical marijuana.

“There’s nothing that has even com close to the way this natural plant has affected Michaela. She’s visually focused more, she turns her head in our direction when we talk to her and when we walk into a room. She’s not as uncomfortable,” said Frederick.

“She’s said her first 2 words since starting the oil. I think she knows what she is saying,” said Kristy Frederick, Michaela’s mother.
Which is more than Arevalo could hope for.

“A state line shouldn’t make a difference especially when it comes to a child. They should have every option of treatment available,” said Arevalo.

The full House vote on the bill is expected some time this week.