Parents Face Prison After Treating Their Son's Seizures with Weed
To stop their son’s debilitating seizures, a family in Georgia has been giving their child smokeable marijuana as treatment. Recently, the Division of Family and Children Services gained custody of the boy and charged his parents with Reckless Conduct. Matthew and Suzeanna Brill aren’t denying that they gave their son weed. Instead, they’re arguing that marijuana is the only way to cure his seizures, no matter what the law says.
The State Took The Boy Away And Arrested His Parents
Family and Children’s Services took the Brill’s son away last month. Since the child is a minor, authorities have not shared his name or age with the public.
Now, parents Matthew and Suzeanna Brill are facing charges of Reckless Conduct from the Twiggs County sheriff’s office. They’ve been arrested for giving their son smokeable marijuana, which is illegal in their home state of Georgia.
Today, Juvenile Court contends that it’s dangerous for the son to live with his family. But his parents are fighting to get him back and avoid time behind bars.
In an interview with local news, mother Suzeanna recounts, “They [Children’s Services] showed up at my house demanding that I quit ‘abusing my son’.”
“I wasn’t abusing my son; I was taking care of my son,” she explains.
The parents aren’t keeping anything from the police or the media. At the time of the arrest, they disclosed to authorities that they were using marijuana, in its smokeable form, to treat their son’s dangerous seizures.
“We openly admitted to them … in front of Twiggs County sheriff’s deputies,” says stepfather Matthew Brill.
The Brill’s son has experienced near-constant seizures, and not much helps. “Every day. Seven days a week, 24 hours a day,” explains Matthew. These episodes impact every aspect of his life and pose a real threat. For instance, the Brills explain, he often has seizures in his sleep and vomits. Not only is this dangerous, but his health problems are getting in the way of his education.
Common seizure medication and low-THC cannabis oil yielded no results. Then, they offered their son smokeable marijuana. While taking it several times a day, he went a full 71 days without a seizure. “Nothing else was working,” says Suzeanna.
CBD Oil vs Smokeable Marijuana For Seizures
Cannabis, typically in the form of CBD oil, is an increasingly common treatment for seizures. More families, dissatisfied with traditional pharmaceutical treatments, are turning to cannabis to help children with autism, epilepsy and other seizure-inducing disorders.
A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine a couple weeks ago proves that CBD medication can reduce seizures. Several clinical trials on medical marijuana’s effect on autism are currently taking place.
However, the Brills have said that the CBD oil they had tried did not work. Running out of options, they turned to smokeable marijuana with THC. THC is a psychoactive cannabinoid, meaning that it’s the main reason why medical experts do not advocate for its use for children. Others say that the entourage effect—ingesting more than one cannabinoid at a time—makes it more potent medicine.
The Brills did their best to give their son medical treatment. Matthew Brill told reporters, “I smoke it first. I know where it comes from, I know my people. Made sure the bag was good, packed the bowl in my bowl, which I know ain’t been anywhere else.”
He adds that they never forced their son to smoke it. “I set it on the table and told him that it was his decision. I did not tell him he had to or not.”
Quality Medical Marijuana Is Inaccessible for Many
Though other parents swear by CBD treatment for seizures, quality CBD oil can be hard to come by. For instance, Epidiolex, a CBD medication that could one day gain FDA approval, is only accessible to those lucky enough to participate in clinical trials. The only two ongoing studies on CBD for seizures are in Los Angeles and New York.
Even if you live in a state with medical marijuana, and in an urban area with access to seizure-specific medication, you’ll have to pay out of pocket. Since marijuana is illegal federally, insurance providers do not cover it even in its medical form. Additionally, over 10 percent of Americana and 12 percent of Georgians don’t have any insurance at all according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Once you factor in accessibility, smokeable weed may seem like the only seizure treatment available.
According to Georgia law, children can take CBD oil to treat seizures. This requires a medical marijuana card and a maximum THC content of 5 percent. Since smokeable marijuana is illegal, especially if given to a minor by a parent, the Brill family could face prison time and lose custody of their son.
In spite of these dangers, the Brills stand firm in their decision to treat their son’s seizures with marijuana. Suzeanna Brill upholds, “I can’t have my kid dying because no one wants to listen.”