The fourth most common neurological disease in the world, one in twenty-six Americans will develop some form of epilepsy over their lifetime and 300,000 of those patients will be under 15. Though for many patient's epilepsy can largely be managed by conventional prescription drugs, as many as 30 percent of all epilepsy patients continue to suffer from “TRS”, or “Treatment Resistant Seizures.”
Not surprisingly, epilepsy hits children particularly hard. The seizures can be worse, the ancillary effects devastating. Children who suffer from epileptic seizures are often held back in school, face significant social barriers, and are “at increased risk for mental health, developmental and physical comorbidities, increasing needs for care coordination and specialized services”.
But there is good news for the nearly one million Americans suffering from these treatment-resistant seizures: medical marijuana helps. A lot.
There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that medical marijuana can combat the effects of these seizures -- from parents and patients grappling with the effects of epilepsy, to national advocacy groups like Campaign for Compassion and Safe Access Now there is near universal agreement that medical marijuana reduces both the frequency and the degree of epileptic seizures when used in conjunction with a health-care provider.
But the real proof lies in an uncontrolled 2015 study sponsored by the American Epilepsy Society that found doses of Cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive compound derived from marijuana, lead to a 45% median reduction in seizures in children and young adults suffering from “TRE”. And in fact, children suffering from a particularly difficult form of epilepsy called Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome saw a 71% reduction in seizure frequency.
With this new realization, children are living with fewer seizures and less pain, and their families are finding some normalcy in lives otherwise dictated by disease. That’s why the difficult fight to pass Pennsylvania’s recent medical marijuana legislation has been so important for families and patients across Pennsylvania.