NEWPORT, CARTERET COUNTY - U.S. Rep. Walter Jones says North Carolina officials should consider whether marijuana would help children who suffer uncontrollable seizures.
Jones has been approached by the parents of several children who suffer life-threatening illnesses, like Haley Ward's mother, Sherena Ward. Ward's five-year-old daughter suffers from CDLK-5. Ward says Haley is one of about 500 children worldwide with the disorder. "In Haley's five years of life she has had hundreds and hundreds, I don't even know how many appointments," said Ward.
Ward says CDKL-5 gives Haley multiple seizures; thousands over her lifetime. Many children with CDKL-5 cannot walk, speak, or eat on their own. They also suffer from spasms, gastrointestinal disorders, respiratory emergencies, cardiac symptoms and multiple others. "I'm pretty scared to wake up and look at her because I don't know if she's gonna be alive in the morning. I don't ever know," said Ward.
Ward says Haley has been prescribed over 10 medications in her lifetime, many of which are strong pain killers. "We tried increasing one of her medications recently, and the seizures spiked," she said.
Ward, along with many other parents say a new drug, known as CBD, could be the answer they've been searching for. CBD is an oil derived from marijuana. They believe CBD could help their children develop.
Officials at Jones' office say many of them are 7-8 years old, yet have the neural development normally seen in children less than two years of age.
Ward insists the drug would not make the children high, saying "she's already high on drugs, and I'm trying to make her not high, so that she can do normal functioning activities."
Officials with Jones' office say the drug would be taken orally, not smoked.
"We don't want children smoking marijuana. But if we have this medical treatment that has proven to have been effective. That's a little bit different," said Sarah Howard, Communications Director for Congressman Jones. "If this is something that has been proven effective in the past and you're a parent with no other option, why would you not."
NC Senator Bill Cook is less optimistic. "I don't wanna open any doors to anybody and their brother going to the doctor and saying 'hey I stubbed my toe I need some marijuana'," he said. However he did add that in extraordinary cases, like that of children with CDKL-5, he would consider supporting a drug like CBD.
Jones says North Carolina officials should consult with medical professionals to determine the appropriateness of allowing the medical use of marijuana in certain cases.
At this time 20 states, plus the District of Columbia, have legalized marijuana for medicinal use.