Treating children with medical marijuana has always been a controversial topic, even as support for treating certain conditions with cannabis continues to grow. Some parents are now demanding that politicians and state legislators legalize the use of marijuana for treating epileptic children.
They believe that other medications have had limited success treating seizures and other severe conditions in their children. "I'm watching my daughter die every day," one parent told MSNBC in an interview. "I firmly believe that medical cannabis will help her."
"There's so much that I want for her right now that she just can't do," said another parent. "Just being able to go out and experience life, to be able to go out and play in the yard without fear of seizures starting."
Seventeen states have legalized the use of marijuana-derived cannabidiol (CBD) in children patients since 2014. These states include Utah, Wyoming, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky and Virginia.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that CBD, the non-psychoactive component of the marijuana plant, helps some children with certain conditions. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the part of the plant that produces a high, is also known to treat pain, nausea and insomnia.
Purchasing CBD isn't that simple. For example, some states don't define methods of access in their laws.
As of yet, the FDA has not approved any marijuana-related treatments. The regulatory agency warns parents of using untested treatments on children.
In room 716 of the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, 12-year-old Hannah Pallas is motionless, but for an occasional turn of her head and blink of her eyes, following a series of life-threatening seizures. On the same day, 5-year-old Sydney Michaels is down the hall in room 749, waiting to be discharged after 15 grand mal seizures within 36 hours.