Crosby, Texas (CBS HOUSTON) — A Texas family feels they are “being forced to leave” their home state in order to seek medical marijuana treatment for their 3-year-old daughter afflicted with a severe form of epilepsy – treatment legal in the state of Colorado, but not in Texas.
Hannah Loew, 3, was diagnosed with a severe and progressive form of epilepsy known as Dravet Syndrome at 6-months-old. She has between 50 to 100 seizures daily, has taken 12 different prescription medicines and has already been on life support three times, KHOU-TV reports.
And now the family is pursuing what they believe may be Hannah’s best chance for treatment: medical marijuana.
“You’re living every day on the edge of your seat not knowing if you’re going to have to rush to the emergency room,” Amber Loew told KHOU. “There is no option to try it. It’s you jump in with both feet and go. “
The couple has bought one-way tickets to Colorado Springs in March, where medical marijuana is legal.
Amber and Paul Loew both recognize the sacrifice they are making by moving to a state they’ve never visited, giving up their jobs and health insurance, and knowing that Hannah will be unable to return to Texas with successful marijuana treatment due to a federal ban on the substance.
“This is not something where my family lives all over the United States. We live in Texas. This is our home, and we’re pretty much being forced to leave,” Amber Loew told KHOU.
The Loew family has taken into account a series of success stories and recent research linking medical marijuana and Duvet Syndrome. One case includes the Figis family in Colorado, where their young daughter with the same severe seizures has been effectively treated with a dosage of cannabis oil two times each day.
The United States Department of Justice and Drug Enforcement Agency list marijuana as a Schedule I drug with “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” The DEA states that Schedule I drugs are “the most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence.”
Marijuana is placed in this same Schedule I category with heroin, LSD, ecstasy and peyote.
Dravet Syndrome is a rare, severe form of intractable epilepsy. Intractable means the seizures are not controlled by medication, a report from Dr. Sanjay Gupta finds. The first seizures with Dravet Syndrome typically begin before the age of one. In the second year, a series of other seizures take hold: “Involuntary muscle spasms and status epilepticus, seizures that last more than 30 minutes or come in clusters, one after the other.”
The electrical and chemical activity of the brain is altered from the THC and CBD components of marijuana, which are believed to aid those affected by seizures.
In 2000, Colorado voters approved Amendment 20, which required the state to set up a medical marijuana registry program. Eight conditions can use utilize marijuana treatment: cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, muscle spasms, seizures, severe pain, severe nausea, dramatic weight loss and muscle atrophy.
For 3-year-old Hannah, she will not be smoking the marijuana, and instead will ingest a liquid form of the substance orally. The family hopes to wean her off the numerous prescriptions she is currently taking, and they are hopeful about the treatment.
“My wife has saved my daughter’s life more times than I can count,” said father Paul Loew. “It will work, and we have faith in that.”