By Deron Hamel
The mother of a St. Thomas, Ont. woman with complex-partial seizures is hoping the availability of cannabidiol (CBD), an extract of the cannabis plant, will enhance her daughter’s quality of life. However, Carol Clarke says there needs to be more information available about proper CBD dosages as well as support for people receiving this treatment.
Carol’s daughter, 28-year-old Brooke Clarke, has had a seizure disorder since adolescence. She has tried numerous surgical and pharmaceutical treatments with limited results. After consulting several doctors, Brooke and Carol finally found a physician who would write a prescription for medicinal marijuana in hopes that the high CBD content would reduce Brooke’s seizures.
Unlike THC, the most abundant chemical compound in cannabis, CBD will not get people “high.” CBD is the most abundant, non-psychoactive chemical compound in cannabis, and initial clinical trial results are very promising, at least for particular epilepsy syndromes and certain seizure types.
Brooke, who has asthma, cannot smoke the plant. Until recently, smoking or vaporizing dry-leaf cannabis were the only ways to legally ingest it. But in a landmark decision June 11, the Supreme Court of Canada made it legal to ingest the plant in any form when medically prescribed.
Still, Carol hasn’t taken the next step to obtain medical marijuana from a licensed producer. She needs to have it converted to an oil, and her doctor suggested the cannabis-enriched oil be made into cookies or some other edible form. Carol’s concern is that she does not know the proper dosage.
“How do I know how much to put into a cookie? How many cookies should she eat? How often?” Carol says. “I (am) really skeptical about going that route. Between trying to figure out the dosage and the expensive cost of it, we have done nothing at this point.”
Adding to the lack of information available about dosing CBD is the cost of buying medicinal marijuana, Carol says. Brooke’s treatment would cost $500 per month.
“I’m a single mother and we can’t afford $500 per month; we can’t live in poverty so that she has no seizures,” Carol says.
“The other hurdle is that if she were to go that route, then who is going to help us to ensure that she’s doing OK? If it does work, then we want them off all of the other (medications) that they’re already on, so somebody needs to help us wade through that.”
As the benefits of CBD become more public, Carol says she hopes to see the treatment covered by OHIP’s medication plan, a move that would alleviate the financial burden for people with seizure disorders and their families.
“Especially if it works as well as we’re seeing,” she says. “My daughter has no quality of life, so if (CBD) is going to give her that quality of life, then for sure, they should be covering the costs, especially when nothing else works.”
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