Two mothers rearing children stricken with catastrophic seizure disorders asked Bellevue State Sen. Sue Crawford Thursday to take the cause of medical marijuana to the state legislature.
Shelley Gillen and Heather Wink said 20 states have legalized a non-hallucinogenic form of marijuana for treatment of various disorders, and reports about positive outcomes are growing.
Gillen’s 11-year-old son, Will, suffers from multiple types of seizures that occur hundreds of times a week and which have left him non-verbal, incontinent, and with the cognitive level of a two-year-old.
Wink has a 12-year-old daughter who suffers from Glucose Transporter Type 1 Deficiency Syndrome, a rare disorder that also causes multiple seizures. She said the rare disease afflicts between 600 and 800 people worldwide and that, while no cure is available, some families in Colorado have experienced improvement with the medical form of marijuana.
“There are three families in Colorado that are currently using medical marijuana to help their children with their seizures,” she said. “There are things happening in other states, and I think Nebraska could follow suit to help kids with their quality of life.”
Gillen read a lengthy statement outlining the physical injuries and mental disability that her son has incurred as result of his seizures.
“Will suffers on a daily basis,” Gillen said. “He has hundreds of seizures a week. He wears a helmet with a facebar 24-7 except when he is in his medical stroller or his medical bed at home.
“Will and our family are living on luck, and every day we pray that Will can get through the day without one of his seizures causing him serious injury.”
Gillen said she and her husband, Dominic, have tried every known treatment, without success, and that medical marijuana is another option.
“No family should have to live like this, not when it’s being proven over and over again throughout the country that medical marijuana is helping so many children and others,” she said. “This is not a political issue, it’s a compassion issue.”
Crawford said she has discussed the issue with an oncologist, who told her a marijuana-based medication is already legal in Nebraska for the treatment of cancer, although not for epilepsy.
She said she and her staff will research the issue, as she does all issues brought before her.
The effectiveness of the medication will be one aspect, she said.
The other will be whether such a law has a realistic chance of passing the legislature.