Charlotte's Web Medical Marijuana Bill Isn't Enough for Many Parents of Epileptics

Charlotte's Web Medical Marijuana Bill Isn't Enough for Many Parents of Epileptics
Illustration by Mark Poutenis

Paula Crews, a suburban mom with short black hair, dumps a stick of butter into a double boiler and stirs in her secret ingredient. Her 24-year-old son, John, waits expectantly at the white Formica counter in their West Broward kitchen, watching while his mom mixes the butter into a pot of melted chocolate. Finally, she pours the candy into a rectangular mold and puts it in the fridge to cool.

"Is her life worth less than any other child's who lives in another state?"

A few minutes later, John pops a piece of his mother's creation into his scruffy face. In about a half-hour, the frat-boy archetype in a Guy Harvey T-shirt will be comfortably numb from the marijuana baked inside the homemade candy bar.

"And that's how you make chocolate with canna-butter," Crews concludes proudly. "That's my son's medicine."

Like parents of other epileptics, Crews was hopeful last month when Gov. Rick Scott signed the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014, a bill that makes a mild strain of weed available to medically suitable patients like John. But many of the Republicans who supported the measure now admit they hope the law helps stall a full medical pot reform initiative on this November's ballot.

"Our mission was to provide just enough to let the sick people in Florida have access to a noneuphoric brand of medicine," says Sen. Aaron Bean, one of the bill's coauthors. "I absolutely do not support full legalization because it can widely be subject to abuse. We passed a bill that's tightly written — a baby step."

Crews, who asked New Times to change her family members' names because of the legal risk, believes the low-THC strain allowed by the bill won't be potent enough to make a difference for her son, who has subclinical seizure disorder. She's far from alone. An estimated 125,000 children in Florida suffer from severe epilepsy, and according to Crews and some experts, many kids might have conditions too serious to treat with the "Charlotte's Web" strain that's now legal in Florida.

The story of the Crewses, who have set up a veritable weed bakery in their kitchen, opens a window into how some parents must evade the law to keep their children healthy. "I realize I'm already risking my home and everything I've worked my entire life for," the IT specialist says. "But we have literally no other options."

Marijuana entered the doctor's office in 1992, when California activists successfully pushed for reform. Since then, 23 other states have followed suit, many experimenting with different models. In the Golden State, for instance, just about anyone with back pain can walk into a head shop and walk out with weed. In New Mexico, there are only three approved dispensaries, so medical pot is nearly impossible to get. Most recently, New York passed a reform law with one caveat: The medicine can't be smoked.

But a unique debate is taking place in Florida: A middle ground has been forged between all-out medical legalization and prohibition. It's centered on "Charlotte's Web," which has become a catch-all term for low-THC weed.

Six brothers in Colorado kicked off the idea in 2011 when they crossbred marijuana and hemp. The strain wouldn't get people high but would deliver some of the medical benefits of pot. In 2013, a Coloradoan named Paige Figi enlisted the Stanley brothers to help her daughter Charlotte. The 7-year-old was experiencing 300 grand mal seizures a month, and doctors recommended placing her in a medically induced coma. Instead, Figi used a low-THC oil created by the brothers.

In Weed, a CNN documentary that aired in January, Figi touted how the drug helped her daughter become active and vivacious. Her seizures dropped dramatically. And after the two-part series hosted by Dr. Sanjay Gupta aired, Charlotte Figi became the first poster child for low-THC medical pot.

Her story caught fire in South Florida this February when parents like Jacel Degadillo from South Miami and Seth Hyman from Weston lobbied to allow a similar strain in Florida. Three Republican lawmakers introduced a bill allowing pot modeled after the Stanley brothers' formula, with more than 10 percent cannabidiol, which can reduce seizures, but with only 0.8 percent of the THC that gets people stoned. The bill passed the Senate 30-9, with Gov. Scott signing it into law June 6. Beginning next January, five dispensaries will be allowed to sell oil made from the medicinal hemp.

If anyone should have been celebrating the law, it was the Crewses, whose story closely mirrors that of the Figis.

Born and raised in Davie to an IT specialist mom and a dad who owns a pest control business, John didn't speak until he was 5 or read until he was 9. He was sent to an autistic school. "He didn't do anything well," Paula Crews recalls. "He wasn't there and could barely communicate. He would just scream."

John didn't know why he was so different from his older sister or why the world seemed to be conspiring against him. In sixth grade, he punched a bully in the face for saying he must have dumb parents because he was so dumb. His report card was lined with D's and F's. Teachers thought he was a class clown because he would ask questions that had just been answered.

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14 comments
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conservativechristia
conservativechristia

It's time for all of us to start doing unto others as we would have them do unto us. None of us would want our kids put in jail over a little marijuana. None of us would want the police to confiscate and sell our parents' home because they grew a couple of plants to help with the aches and pains of growing old. Let's start treating other people the way we would want to be treated.

conservativechristia
conservativechristia

Sen. Bean says, “"I absolutely do not support full legalization because it can widely be subject to abuse.”

Sen. Bean has accepted thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from alcohol and pharmaceutical corporations that may have a financial interest in locking up Florida citizens that might want to use marijuana:

From the State of Florida Campaign Finance website, http://election.dos.state.fl.us/campaign-finance/contrib.asp

2014 election cycle, just the first part of Sen. Bean’s list of campaign contributors (“a” through “b”):

Alcohol companies:

10/31/2013500.00 ANHEUSER BUSCH COMPANIES

02/25/2014500.00 ANHEUSER BUSCH COMPANIES

03/03/2014500.00 ABC LIQUORS, INC.

American Pharmaceutical companies:

11/12/2013500.00 ABBOTT LABORATORIES

12/30/2013500.00 ABBVIE

11/27/2013 500.00 AMGEN USA

02/25/2014500.00 ANAZAOHEALTH CORPORATION

11/08/2013500.00 CHE BRISTOL-MYERS SQUIBB COMPANY

FOREIGN pharmaceutical companies)

02/28/2014 1,000.00 ALKERMES, INC (Ireland)

11/08/2013 500.00 ASTELLAS PHARMA US, INC (Japan)

11/08/2013 500.00 ASTRA ZENENA SERVICES (London)

11/08/2013 500.00 BOEHRINGER INGELHEIM PHARMACEUTICALS, INC (Germany)

Yes, that’s right: Sen. Bean is accepting money from FOREIGN pharmaceutical companies, even as he supports laws to lock up Florida parents who want to use marijuana to care for their children.

Take a special look at this picture of the manager of the German drug company that is contributing to Sen. Bean’s campaign:

http://www.boehringer-ingelheim.com/corporate_profile/management.html

Is this the right person to be influencing the health policies of Florida?

Remember, this is just from the A and B part of the list; you can go to the website to see the rest of the list.

Luiz Felix
Luiz Felix

Ignorance together with hypocrisy still killing people in 21 century. What a shame. Stupid people everywhere looking for their own stupid agenda and fcuking the world around them on the process. .

sweetcookies3333
sweetcookies3333

the greatest plant in the universe is almost free, LET FREEDOM RING! 13


1000s of my friends and family have grown 30-99 plants for 20 years, thanks for keeping prices high and NORCAL wealthy...#1 crop in cali = $15 Billion Untaxed...

"any doctor against marijuana is a doctor of death" - cali secret 420

from 0 states to half the country, from low 20% approval to almost 70%, cali runs this planet by 2 decades, time to tie marijuana to the 2014, 2016 elections, out with the old, in with the new

20 years behind us southern states and NEW YORK (CBD = Cant Be Done), sad and scary....nobody denies freedoms like the south, nobody…the top ten incarcerators on the planet are southern states and more blacks are in prison then were slaves before the civil war...even if marijuana reforms did pass the republiCANTS in charge would deny you all your freedoms, centuries of practice...no matter though, we never planned on getting your backwards brethren from day one, half the country already but not one southern state, lol...not 1….the new generations are taking over in the south and they are nothing like their freedom denying parents, let’s ride…

Deaths by Alcohol: Millions
Deaths by Tobacco: Millions

Deaths by Prescription Drugs: Quadrupled in last decade

Deaths by Guns: Millions

Deaths by the food we are fed: Millions

Deaths by Marijuana: 0, ever...they are killing my American family while denying freedom

love and freedom forever

AMERICA'S WAR ON DRUGS IS A WAR ON AMERICANS! 33

hempstaff
hempstaff topcommenter

Why do we restrict Doctors from having ALL available medicine?  Makes no sense!  VOTE YES on #2 for FULL Medical Marijuana.

Amendment 2 is a win-win for Florida. Let the Doctors have all medicine available to them, and in the meantime create tax revenue and jobs for Florida!

Looking to start working in the Medical Cannabis Industry in Florida? HempStaff can help you get in the door after Amendment #2 passes!

 
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