Central Illinois parents ask state to allow their children access to CBD

By Katherine Tellez

February 24, 2014 Updated Feb 24, 2014 at 10:52 PM CDT

CENTRAL ILLINOIS, Ill. -- Medical Marijuana became legal in Illinois January 1, 2014.

But in order to be eligible for it, you have to meet certain requirements.

You must be at least 18 years old, have one of the 42 chronic conditions listed and have a doctor recommendation.

Medical marijuana is legal in 21 states.

Of those states, only 18 of them list epilepsy as a qualifying condition.

Illinois is not one of them.

Currently the Illinois legislature is considering a bill that would not only add epilepsy to the list, but allow children to have access to the drug.

Currently, CBD, a component of the marijuana plant used to treat seizures, is only legal in five states.

If passed, the bill would make Illinois the sixth.
CBD has little to no THC, the component that gives people a "high."

Families here in Central Illinois say it shouldn't be about what state you live in, but rather what's best for the kids.

"You just want the best and you want anything to help your child have a typical life," said Marissa Arevalo.

Marissa Arevalo's daughter Rocio started seizing when she was just two months old. She is now two and a half.

Rocio takes three different medications -- most with scary side effects.

"It could cause blindness or it could cause an enlarged heart or it could cause liver failure. But we're going to try it and see if it works. But it doesn't work. With CBD oil there's nothing that scary. It's not as big of a risk I feel like," Arevalo said.

20-month-old James has been epileptic his entire life.

He has more than 100 seizures every day and takes several medications.

His parents, Tom and Neomi said because nothing is controlling the seizures, his developmental progress is up and down.

Neomi was skeptical about CBD at first -- but hearing about its success gives them hope.

"It's not your typical teenager out smoking it. These kids aren't smoking it. They are taking the plant and they're extracting it," Neomi Jenne said. "In a moment's notice your life can change and be like ours. And you would want anything for your kid to have a change at life."

Andrea and Brent Rohman know first-hand how life can change in an instant.

"Some days you see glimmers. But most days I think the real Brock is pretty suppressed," Brent Rohman said.

Their son Brock started having seizures when he was 3-years-old. No one could explain why.

Brock is on five different medications -- and while they may seem to help they say it all takes away who Brock really is.

CBD is their last option.

"We've read and seen all these great stories. I've yet to see a single story where one person said this didn't help our child in any way, shape or form."

Steffany Weishaupt lost her son when he was just 8 months old.

She has hope CBD can help children like her son Wesley -- and the first step is making it legal.

"Until the laws are changed we can't see those guidelines. But we hear form other moms, it works miracles," Weishaupt said.

Adam and Kristy Frederick know first-hand the positive effect CBD can have on children with seizures.

The Washington, Illinois couple moved to Colorado with their daughter Michaela in January when Adam's job transferred him there for a year.

Michaela's seizures started when she was just two months old.

At nine months they became even more severe.

Michaela started taking CBD in late January.

Adam said they've seen an decrease in the number of daily seizures.

The Fredericks' are scheduled to move back from Colorado next January.

But Kristy said if CBD is not legal in Illinois she and Michaela will stay there.

They both agree they could never put their daughter back on the other medications that didn't help and had horrible side effects.

To submit a comment on this article, your email address is required. We respect your privacy and your email will not be visible to others nor will it be added to any email lists.