For two-and-a-half years, Meghan and Brian Wilson have watched as their beloved daughter Vivian battles the severe form of epilepsy known as Dravet Syndrome. Few of us can imagine what it must be like to watch helplessly as your child twitches and seizes and spasms, not knowing if this will be the episode that ends your child’s short, tortured life. Most of us would go to any length, even offering our life in exchange, to see our child grow up happy and healthy.
Now imagine that you did go to every length possible. You visited hospitals and doctors and specialists, you tried prescription after prescription after prescription, you sacrificed so much of your time and money and emotion – and nothing would help your epileptic child. Sometimes there would be a slight reprieve thanks to one combination of drugs, but the side effects left your child nearly comatose and the seizures would eventually return. Eventually, despite all your optimism, you would have to resign yourself to someday picking out your child’s coffin, with the only mystery being how large it would have to be.
Then imagine one August day, you see a special on CNN. It’s called “Weed” and some doctor is talking about another little girl, Charlotte Figi, and how her Dravet Syndrome is almost completely ameliorated with the use of an extract from a marijuana plant high in cannabidiol. You don’t smoke pot and you don’t know a CBD from CBGBs, but your own damn eyes can see that this little girl is experiencing the miraculous recovery you dream of for your child.
Fortunately for you, the legislature of your state passed a medical marijuana law that went into effect a year before your child was born. Unfortunately for you, the governor of your state is doing everything in his power to make sure your child dies without ever having tried this miracle treatment.
Meghan and Brian had been lobbying their legislators for help. The marijuana extract that would save their daughter Vivian’s life is so low in THC it could never make anyone high, not even a toddler. It is so uncontroversial that Republican legislators in Utah a supporting its importation from Colorado. As the producer of the plant told the Utah legislature, there are hemp milk products on your grocery store shelves that have more THC than this high-CBD oil.
But the Republican governor of New Jersey, the redundantly-named presidential-aspirant Chris Christie, isn’t as progressive as a Utah Republican when it comes to saving kids’ lives. Christie has pushed through regulations on the New Jersey state program that limit the strains and potency of medical marijuana, making it impossible for the Wilsons to get the high-CBD oil that would save Vivian’s life. The legislature listened to Meghan and Brian and is currently passing a law that would allow patients to bring in marijuana products from other medical marijuana states.
Gov. Christie has vowed to veto that legislation. He has said he will never expand the medical marijuana program in any way, because that’s what the marijuana legalizers want and marijuana will never be legalized in New Jersey on his watch. He’s even put forth a “slippery slope” argument where importing an edible non-psychoactive marijuana extract from Colorado to save the lives of epileptic kids inexorably leads to teenagers smoking joints and stoned mayhem on the turnpike.
Does Gov. Christie really want to see Vivian Wilson die? Has he not seen the Sanjay Gupta “Weed” documentary? Does he just discredit his own lyin’ eyes when he sees Charlotte Figi’s miraculous recovery? Is he too beholden to his presidential dream to risk being the pot-friendly candidate in what should be a hyper-conservative 2016 GOP nomination campaign? Can he really believe even the worst “reefer madness” scares of child pot use are worse than the daily body-wracking seizures this toddler lives with? Whatever the explanation, the result is just plain evil.
Fortunately, the story of the Wilson Family has a Merry Christmas ending. Garyn Angel, the company president of Magical Butter, a closed-system appliance for making marijuana butters and oils, and his friends, Drew and Lisa Braun from Florida, donated $10,000 to help Meghan and Brian relocate to Colorado, where they can easily access the high-CBD oil that will greatly improve Vivian’s life. However, Meghan and Brian have to move two thousand miles away from their extended family and friends. They have to find new jobs and acclimate to a new climate and culture.
If this high-CBD oil was a new extract discovered in the rainforest from any other plant, given its remarkable effect and safety profile, the FDA would have fast-tracked this into the marketplace and countless lives of epileptics would be markedly improved. But since it comes from a particular cannabis plant, and some of those other cannabis plants get people high, some people can justify letting epileptic kids die. It should be such a no-brainer – this extract is no more “pot” than a hemp rope and should be legal in all fifty states right now. Shame on you, Gov. Christie, for forcing sick kids to flee your state just to survive.