By Jenn Jackson
As the knowledge of the patient begins to exceed the knowledge of the practitioner in the arena of medical marijuana, parents are becoming progressively less tolerant of the ignorance exhibited by their children’s pediatricians. Most notably, parents of children battling childhood cancers and extreme seizure disorders have taken this issue to the mat in the press and in their communities.
It’s amazing to believe that, in this day and age of technology and internet, with unlimited access to information on virtually any topic, science and common sense still seem to be losing to decades-old propaganda and “standard” medical protocol in the battle for parents’ rights to choose safe, effective, non-toxic medical treatments for their children in lieu of physician-recommended and state-mandated regimens. In most cases, “standard” treatments for serious childhood diseases are very harmful and toxic; sometimes such treatments are of very limited benefit, or even ineffective altogether.
Hearing parents account their experiences in the medical system while trying to navigate the best course of treatment for their children is often times shocking to say the least. It is not uncommon to hear stories of forced prescriptions of chemotherapies, radiation and other potentially hazardous pharmaceuticals.
Even more shocking is the notion that, in most instances, denying these protocols and opting for a natural remedy is much like sounding a bullhorn calling for Child Protective Services to step in and become the physician’s mafia: strong-arming the parent’s cooperation with threats of removing the child from the parent’s custody and administering the recommended treatment while the child is in the custody of the state.
With more and more of these accounts coming forward, parents lobbying for the right to choose the unique benefits of medical marijuana and cannabis extract medicines for their children are becoming outraged. As a result, these parents are organizing to bring this matter to public opinion.
Right now, three brave mothers, currently treating their children with life-saving cannabis extract, are currently making a bold move in the face of adversity from Florida Law Enforcement professionals and the proposed legislation restricting safe access for their children.
On February 22nd, Sierra Riddle, Moriah Barnhart, and Renee H. Petro met in Florida, along with other parents of critically ill children. These “parents-out-of-time,” with their medication in tow, joined together to address some of the major concerns with regards to raising awareness and education in light of the upcoming legislation initiatives. A second meeting is planned for March 1.
The group’s effort focuses on demonstrating the safety of cannabis extract medicine and raising awareness of the efficacy of medical marijuana for pediatric patients.
As we all know, educating law enforcement and legislators can be a very risky venture. In the case of these three mothers, and the parents joining them, the danger of personal injury, arrest and/or investigation by Child Protective Services is especially heightened.
For this reason, the parents facilitating this call-to-action are asking all organizations and allies in drug law reform to join the proverbial circle of protection and stand with these brave parents in their hour of needed support.
Profiling the plight of these parents brings an immediate sense of urgency and consequent understanding as to why they are willing to lay their freedoms on the line for a whole plant, high-THC, medical marijuana initiative, as well as why we, as a community, need to ensure their safety.
Moriah Barnhart’s daughter Dahlia was diagnosed at the age of 2 with a highly malignant and aggressive brain cancer on May 5, 2013. Moriah is a Florida Resident who has temporarily relocated to Colorado to secure safe access to a cannabis extract regimen for Dahlia’s cancer treatment – a treatment that she, and many others, believe is saving Dahlia’s life.
Moriah maintains that parents fighting cancer and other terminal illnesses should not have to face the added stress and financial strain of being required to relocate across country to ensure access for medical marijuana. She advocates strongly against the state’s legislation and medical establishments negating a parent’s right to choose a non-toxic and effective treatment for their children. State-enforced chemotherapy treatments for juveniles are a common threat amidst the parents of pediatric cancer patients.
Moriah is accompanied by Sierra Riddle, another maternal medical marijuana refugee. Forced to relocate to Colorado seeking safe access to cannabis extracts for her son Landon, Sierra has been very vocal about her son’s battle with leukemia, his adverse reaction to chemotherapy, and his subsequent improvement and quick remission upon the introduction of high-THC cannabis extracts used to treat his cancer.
Renee H. Petro is a courageous Florida mom whose twelve year old son, Branden, suffers from febrile infection-related epilepsy syndrome (FIRES), a form of epilepsy which causes severely destructive seizures resulting in permanent damage to various parts of the brain.
Renee joins the frontlines of this campaign by speaking out against CBD-only legislation, challenging Florida’s Sentate Bill 1030 on mandates outlining “medical grade marijuana” be defined as less than .5 THC and more than 15% CBD.
Although the proposed legislation would indeed benefit Renee’s son, she understands that guidelines within this legislation could pose a potential death sentence for many other children in the state.
In a brave and selfless move to push for sensible legislation governing Medical Marijuana in Florida, Renee has declined to endorse the state’s proposed legislation and stand with Moriah and Sierra to speak out on this issue, hoping that No Child Is Left Behind in the state’s attempt to establish a working protocol for medical marijuana rather than a “CBD-only” program.
All three women and their children’s stories have been featured on local news stations, as well as major news outlets such as CNN and MSNBC. These moms are hoping that people pay attention to what they’re saying and take the time to learn about cannabis extract medicine, the many diseases and disorders it treats, and the safety it offers patients. In doing so, the public will be less apt to let damaging legislature like Florida House Bill SB 1030 pass.
EDITOR’S NOTE: These three mothers initially met online, and developed both a friendship and a plan for action through social media. They are currently working on a website for their advocacy group, but in the meantime, they hope other parents interested in joining their efforts will contact them through Branden, Dahlia, and Landon‘s facebook pages.