MAINE: On a dark night in November, Meagan Patrick drove from her home in Acton with her husband, Ken, and their two children to a medicinal marijuana dispensary in Portland. Ken parked and went in, while Meagan and the kids waited in the car. “It was literally in a back alley,” said Meagan, a 31-year-old third-grade teacher.
Just a few months ago, this errand – shopping for medicinal marijuana to treat her baby daughter’s epilepsy – would have been unfathomable.
Ken came out empty-handed. There was plenty of medicinal marijuana available but, as they had suspected, not the kind they were seeking.
So this Monday, Meagan plans to board a flight to Colorado with 13-month-old Addelyn – “Addy” – to begin the process of becoming a resident there, far from family, far from Ken’s job and their woodsy home in southwestern Maine but close to what she believes may be her best hope for her child’s future.
About 100 families nationwide have already relocated to Colorado in order to obtain a strain of medical marijuana known as “Charlotte’s Web” that has been shown to be effective in treating children with epilepsy. Originally called “Hippie’s Disappointment” by its growers because of what it lacked in traditional potency, namely the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) that gives users a psychoactive high, this strain of high CBD (cannabidiol) marijuana was renamed for a little girl named Charlotte Figi.
Researchers at the University of Reading in England found evidence that cannabidiol, one of many components in the marijuana plant, can radically reduce the number of seizures in epilepsy patients; it reacts with receptors within the body and works as an anticonvulsant. That was borne out by Charlotte Figi’s case; at age 4 she was having 300 grand mal seizures a week and had run out of pharmaceutical options. In her first week on this cannabis-derived medicine she had just one seizure. Now 6, she is 99 percent seizure-free.