Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Young Girl's Story May Lead Idaho to Approve Marijuana Oil; Marijuana Oil May Ease Girl's Disease, but State Forbids Any Use of Illegal Substance

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Young Girl's Story May Lead Idaho to Approve Marijuana Oil; Marijuana Oil May Ease Girl's Disease, but State Forbids Any Use of Illegal Substance

Article excerpt

BOISE, Idaho * Alexis Carey, 10, has a rare and intractable form of epilepsy, Dravet Syndrome. The genetic disease causes severe and multiple seizures that often leave parents guessing in terror if the episode will pass or turn fatal.

Her Boise, Idaho, family learned that oil extracted from marijuana had helped other children and wanted to see if it would help Alexis, too.

"Parent to parent, when you're in a small community and 10 people that you know are all having success, that's no longer anecdotal," said Clare Carey, her mother. "That's hope."

But Idaho's stringent marijuana laws do not allow for medicinal use, and lawmakers as recently as 2013 vowed to never allow it.

The family began lobbying lawmakers to decriminalize the oil almost two years ago. Now, they've got some legislative backers and an upcoming hearing, as Idaho considers joining a larger movement to loosen laws to allow the use of marijuana extract oil.

Twelve states have legalized the oil while still banning medical marijuana. Virginia legalized the oil Feb. 26. In Utah, lawmakers have given initial approval to let those with chronic and debilitating diseases consume edible marijuana products, while still banning smoking.

Marijuana extract oil first received attention several years ago when a Colorado family fought and won access for their daughter who also had Dravet Syndrome. It is similar to hemp oil, which is legal in Idaho and can be bought in grocery stores.

With no known cure for Dravet Syndrome, children are often prescribed a cocktail of medications to counter the seizures. However, the drugs often come with side effects that can permanently damage a child's developing liver, kidneys and other organs.

Proponents of cannabidiol oil, a nonpsychotropic extract of marijuana, argue that it reduces the amount and length of seizures in children.

Over time, Carey hopes that the oil would also reduce the number of medications her daughter relies on. …

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