The story of 13-year-old Cyndimae Meehan is a powerful study in the moral imperative of ending the drug war. Cyndimae suffered from Dravet syndrome since she was 10 months old, which caused daily and repeated seizures.
After trying 23 different FDA-approved pharmaceuticals which did nothing but put Cyndimae in a wheelchair, her parents were forced to become criminals and seek out medical cannabis. They found a source in prohibitionist Connecticut, and the results were miraculous.
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil—a non-psychoactive extract of cannabis—stopped Cyndimae’s seizures in its tracks, as seen in a video from March. The girl enjoyed a tremendously better quality of life because of this plant extract.
“When I met Cyndimae three years ago, she was in a wheelchair, was unresponsive and had a blank stare on her face. She was a shell of a child,” said Brian Breton, who leads Maine Children for Cannabis Therapy. “Now she runs and laughs and colors and goes swimming. She’s an inspiration to all of us.”
Sadly, after 2½ years of living in Maine with legal access to medical cannabis, Cyndimae passed away. Though CBD oil gave her an unprecedented quality of life, even it could not prevent the full severity of Dravet syndrome.
Cyndimae and her parents had become strong voices in the fight to end the senseless prohibition of medical cannabis that still grips some states and the federal government. She was living testimony to the power of cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive extract of cannabis, to treat epileptic seizures where pharma drugs fail.
The science is now undeniable.
Studies are repeatedly confirming the extraordinary medical value of cannabidiol. In five months, three clinical trials have taken medical cannabis to the forefront of epilepsy treatment.
The latest study may result in the first cannabis-derived drug to be approved by federal regulators for prescription use. Epidiolex, which is almost pure CBD, “significantly reduced seizures in severely epileptic children, according to a landmark study conducted in part at Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago.”
“The study at Lurie was part of a nationwide clinical trial conducted by the drug's maker, GW Pharmaceuticals. While a preliminary study also produced encouraging results, the company said this was the first trial of plant-based CBD involving a randomized, double-blind placebo control, known as the gold standard of disease research…
The study involved about 120 patients, aged 2 to 18, who have Dravet syndrome and whose seizures were resistant to existing medications. Among patients who received the drug, convulsive seizures were reduced by an average of 39 percent, compared to 19 percent for the placebo, over 14 weeks last summer, according to results announced in March.”
One patient with Dravet syndrome, 5-year-old Caleb Yunk, went 100 days without a seizure. He was able to move away from other pharma drugs that produced serious side effects.
"His eyes sparkle more," said his mother, Kelley Yunk. "He's more engaged. I think he's more cheerful. For our family, it was such a huge blessing."
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The promising results of Epidiolex trials have granted it Fast Track status from the FDA. This study builds on prior research that was presented in December at the American Epileptic Society, which showed Epidiolex to have astounding results.
“Of 261 patients given CBD treatment, 45% experienced a significant reduction in seizure frequency, and 9% were seizure-free at 3 months. Some children continued to experience benefits after the trial ended, even one year after.
“In the subsequent periods, which are very encouraging, 9 percent of all patients and 13 percent of those with Dravet Syndrome epilepsy were seizure-free. Many have never been seizure-free before,” said lead author Dr. Orrin Devinsky.”
These clinical trials build on the exponential growth of medical cannabis research that has taken place in the last couple of years, as state governments continue to decriminalize the plant and irrational fears about it dissipate.
In March, we reported on another successful clinical trial conducted at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where 90 percent of patients experienced “some improvement.”
“Dr. Jerzy Szaflarski, head of the Division of Epilepsy at UAB and a principal investigator in the study, told AL.com:
“We have noticed that at least 50 percent of the patients have more than 50 percent reduction in seizures, which is very nice. Some of these patients have multiple seizures per day. They report on CBD that they have days without seizures, which is great.”
This was the largest study of its kind to date, and is being presented at the time of this writing to more than 10,000 neurologists at the American Academy of Neurology meeting. It will surely accelerate the growing interest in using CBD for treatment of various types of epilepsy.
As Dr. Szaflarksi noted, “The majority of the seizure medications that are on the market have some negative effects of cognition. Here, we observe something to be different.”
The weight of scientific evidence continues to make prohibition look ever more absurd. The only real criminal act taking place is government continuing to deny medical cannabis to people.
Some politicians are taking a stand. Rep. Allen Peake, a Georgia lawmaker, defies unjust cannabis prohibition by bringing medical cannabis into Georgia from states where it is legal. This incredibly noble and brave practice is helping desperate parents bring relief to their suffering children.
“I got a text this morning from the mother of a young child who I delivered product to,” said Peake. “And the heartfelt thanks from this mother, the difference in this child – the increase in cognitive ability, the reduction in seizures, has been worth every bit of risk that I’ve taken.”
The case for medical cannabis is clear. The time for government to end its harmful crusade is now.