The benefits of medical marijuana in treating severe forms of epilepsy are well documented with new promising data being released at an increasing rate. Just this month, the American Academy of Neurology release data from a study showing GW Pharmaceuticals medical marijuana medicine Epidiolex® (pure cannabidiol, or CBD) reduced the number of seizures by 54% in patients with severe forms of epilepsy.
The problem for many suffering children and desperate parents has been the inconsistent state laws that are further restricted by a total federal prohibition on what could potentially be life changing medicines. Stories of displaced families having to become “medical refugees” have touched the hearts of millions and motivated some state legislatures from around the country to enact medical marijuana laws.
A great deal of progress has been made in making cannabis-based medicines available to all those who need it. But there is still a long way to go with children still having to suffer unnecessarily purely because of their geography.
Sophia Nazzarine, a 7 year old in Ohio, is one such child. Like so many other children who suffer from severe forms of epilepsy, Sophia has endured countless pharmaceutical medications and even brain surgeries with no relief from her life threatening seizures. Now, with so much promise shown by medical marijuana in treating epilepsy that are non-responsive to other forms of treatment, the Nazzarines want to try it for their daughter. In the video, Sophia’s dad says:
“We’ve tried everything else that they could come up with to try and stop these seizures — none of it has worked”
“We should be able to try a pretty benign plant before you take out a quarter of my daughter’s brain. This is the last effort for us; It should have been the first one. The first one we should have been able to do is try a plant.”
Sophia and her family live in Ohio where medical marijuana is illegal. There are several ballot initiatives currently vying to get on the 2015 or 2016 ballot with ResponsibleOhio on course for 2015, albeit with some controversy due to the specifics of the plan.
A video produced by Learn Liberty at the Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University and sponsored by the Drug Policy Alliance documents Sophia and her family’s story. The video and the press release are included below.
Click here to sign the petition to help Sophia: http://www.helpsophia.com/
PRESS RELEASE | 04/22/2015
New Video Tells Powerful Story of Young Epilepsy Patient without Safe Access to Medical Marijuana
Moving Video Features Struggle and Frustration of Ohio Family That Has Run Out of Treatment Options for Their Daughter
The Drug Policy Alliance and Learn Liberty have teamed up to tell the emotional story of Sophia Nazzarine, a 7-year-old girl suffering from uncontrolled epilepsy, in a new video.
Between clips of Sophia singing and playing with her parents in her hometown of Cincinnati, the audience is shown saddening footage of Sophia seizing as a newborn, while her parents describe their discovery of Sophia’s epilepsy and their exhaustive struggle to find an effective treatment.
“We’ve tried everything else that they could possibly come up with to try and stop these seizures,” says Scott Nazzarine, Sophia’s father, “None of it has worked. We need legislation that allows our child to get the medicine she needs. But with or without it, we will continue to give our child what she needs to reduce her dangerous seizures.”
Sophia’s story is complemented by interviews with doctors, explaining her condition and the strong potential for its treatment with marijuana.
“The belief is that it’s the cannabadiol portion of [the marijuana plant] that seems to have less intoxicating effects and more of the anti-seizure effects,” explains Dr. Michael D. Privitera, Professor of Neurology at the University of Cincinnati.
“There are millions of people, young and old, just like Sophia, suffering from serious illnesses for which their doctors are out of ideas,” said DPA’s Dr. Amanda Reiman in response to the video, “They are out of options in the realm of traditional medical care and they deserve to have every option on the menu, and in 23 states plus Washington DC, they do.”
The video is being released just as legislation has been introduced by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) to allow those state programs to exist. The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States – CARERS – Act is the first-ever bill in the U.S. Senate to legalize marijuana for medical use and the most comprehensive medical marijuana bill ever introduced in Congress.
The video ends by asking viewers to help create legal access to medical marijuana by supporting the Drug Policy Alliance as Sophia reads with her mother.
“Spending a week with Sophia and her family while filming this documentary was a life-changing experience. Sophia is truly an amazing girl whose story is helping to educate millions of people about why she can’t get the simple medication she needs,” said Tim Hedberg, the producer of the video for Learn Liberty.
The Drug Policy Alliance is the nation’s leading organization promoting alternatives to the war on drugs.
Learn Liberty is your resource for exploring the ideas of a free society. They tackle big questions about what makes a society free or prosperous and how we can improve the world we live in. Learn Liberty is a project of the Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University.
Scott and Nicole Nazzarine have both made themselves available to any media outlets with further interest in their daughter’s story. Unreleased photos and footage are also available to these outlets for free use.
Tony Newman: 646-335-5384
Scott Nazzarine: 513-543-2321