- D.H. Reilly
Medical Marijuana Can Benefit Children With Certain Conditions: Attitudes Changing
While it’s frustrating that we can’t yet get a Tennessee Marijuana Card for our qualifying conditions, there is at least one population for whom the wait is even more intolerable: parents of children with qualifying conditions.
Recently, the Today Show spotlighted one family who defied the law to treat their severely disabled daughter with cannabis. Their experience shows not only the hope that medical marijuana can bring to the hopeless, but also the progress our society is making towards finally embracing this long maligned medicine.
Before Texas Law Allowed for Medical Marijuana, One Couple Took Action
Daily life was an ordeal for Mark and Christy Zartler, of Richardson, Texas. Their teenage daughter, Kara, has severe cerebral palsy and autism. None of the medications they had been prescribed brought Kara any relief, but they all brought her intolerable side-effects.
No longer able to endure their daughter’s violent outbursts, during which she repeatedly struck herself in the head, the Zartlers decided to try a medicine that wasn’t legal in Texas at the time: medical marijuana.
For the Zartlers, Medical Marijuana “was a Miracle”
Mark Zartler told the Today Show that medical marijuana improved Kara’s condition “just like that.”
“It was a miracle,” a tearful Christy added.
Now, Kara’s outbursts are rare, and some medical marijuana quickly ends them when they do happen.
Despite Anecdotal Evidence, Science Remains Split on Cannabis and Kids
While there have been plenty of stories like the Zartlers’ from coast-to-coast, cannabis and kids remains a controversial topic in the medical science community. But in the first sign of how things have changed, the controversy isn’t because doctors and researchers doubt the efficacy of medical marijuana. Instead, as the Today Show pointed out, the split is between those who say the medicine is safe for children, and those who say more research is needed.
Medical Marijuana Research is Still More Limited Than it Should be
And those who say that medical marijuana’s safety and efficacy for children remains uncertain do have a point, because marijuana is only now beginning to get real, robust attention from researchers.
Pediatrician Bonni Goldstein told the Today Show that a stigma still remains around medical marijuana, and that stigma can affect what research is conducted. “I think a lot of it has to do with the brainwashing and all the propaganda that cannabis is bad. Just getting to a neutral place is difficult. But again, I say let the science lead the way," Goldstein said.
According to the Today Show, Goldstein says that “about 75% of her patients have seen positive, life-changing results without side effects.”
And yet research remains relatively scarce on medical marijuana, because of the stigma and outdated laws that continue to surround it.
According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, even though 36 states have now created medical marijuana markets, “the federal government has not legalized cannabis and continues to enforce restrictive policies and regulations on research into the health harms or benefits of cannabis products that are available to consumers in a majority of states.”
Consequently, the Academies say, “research on the health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids has been limited in the United States, leaving patients, health care professionals, and policy makers without the evidence they need to make sound decisions regarding the use of cannabis and cannabinoids.”
“What if the Only Way to Help Them is to Break the Law?”
In her introduction to her piece about the Zartlers, the Today Show’s Catie Beck said, “If you’re a parent, you know how it is. You'd do almost anything to help your kid, to take away their pain. But what if the only way to help them is to break the law?”
For the Zartlers, their situation got so bad that they decided doing their own experimenting was better than watching their daughter continue to suffer. And the results they got were almost miraculous.
And while their story is unique, it is similar to ones told by parents around the nation who decided that breaking the law was better than letting the law break their kids.
“Carly’s Law” Began Alabama’s Road to Medical Marijuana
Consider the example of Carly Chandler, an Alabama toddler who suffered from debilitating epilepsy. Her parents had exhausted all other treatment options and failed to find relief.
Her father, Dustin Chandler, a former police officer and a staunch marijuana prohibitionist, began fighting for the right to treat his daughter with THC. Eventually, that fight led to the passage of Carly’s Law, which allowed epilepsy patients to use CBD oil with THC to treat their condition.
Chandler told Birmingham CBS affiliate WIAT that Carly’s results were so good, it turned him from prohibitionist to advocate for medical marijuana. “I think it really opened my eyes to it,” he said.
Carly’s Law was passed in 2013. Eight years later, when Governor Kay Ivey signed Alabama’s medical marijuana law, Chandler was at the ceremony. He had advocated for this law even though his daughter had already found the relief she had needed. But he knew others were still suffering, and that medical marijuana could be their relief.
“There’s a lot of people that are desperate to find new treatments. And if their physician is willing to help them with it, then this gives them hope. So it’s really for the people that are suffering,” Chandler told the Alabama Media Group at the signing ceremony.
From finding relief for his daughter to helping others find the same, from prohibitionist to advocate, Dustin Chandler’s journey is a microcosm of the changing societal attitudes toward not only medical marijuana but cannabis and kids.
Medical Marijuana Also Took the Zartlers from Criminals to Advocates
Technically, the Zartlers are still criminals for helping their daughter. Even though medical marijuana is legal in Texas now, Kara’s dosage exceeds the limits set by state law.
But they are also advocates, being public about their lawbreaking so they can model the problem with our society’s bias against marijuana and offer advice to parents in similar situations.
And fortunately, they faced and won their biggest legal battle over their daughter’s treatments. In 2018, when Kara turned 18, someone reported the Zartlers to Children’s Protective Services for giving marijuana to a minor.
While someone as severely disabled as Kara will always need guardians, and in normal circumstances her parents would have continued to serve in that capacity after she came of age, Mark and Christy found themselves in court defending their right to continue to be parents to their child.
And in yet another sign that we live in miraculous, changing times, the Zartlers won that fight. Although clearly in violation of the law (Texas had not yet embraced medical marijuana), they remain Kara’s caretakers to this day.
Changing Attitudes are Bound to Help Tennessee, Also
From police officers becoming marijuana advocates to courts overlooking parents giving a kid cannabis, we are clearly living in a changing society.
Thirty-six states have legalized medical marijuana. Medical marijuana is embraced by 91% of Americans. And 81% of Tennessee voters support medical marijuana. Cops are becoming marijuana boosters. Parents are keeping custody after giving their kids cannabis.
Times are clearly changing, and those who are standing between Tennessee and relief will eventually fall by the wayside. Medical marijuana, which has been so miraculous for the Zartlers and so many others, is coming to Tennessee. It’s just a matter of time.
You Have to Wait for Medical Marijuana, but You Don’t Have to Wait to Get Ready for it
No, that change hasn’t come to Tennessee yet, but it’s coming, and you can get ready now for when it does.
Reserve an evaluation today, and we’ll book an appointment for you with one of our compassionate, knowledgeable doctors just as soon as Tennessee’s medical marijuana market is up and running.
You’ll meet with your new doctor virtually, using your smartphone or computer for a telemedicine appointment. You’ll discuss your condition and learn what medical marijuana can do for you, all without leaving your home. And you’ll even save $25 off the cost of your evaluation!
Doctors Who Care. Relief You Can Trust.
At Tennessee Marijuana Card, our mission is helping everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.
Call us at (833) 781-5611, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!
Check out Tennessee Marijuana Card’s Blog to keep up to date on the latest medical marijuana news, tips, and information!