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Posted on: July 3, 2019 at 7:44 pm
Last updated: July 4, 2019 at 2:46 pm

Jayden David was born perfectly healthy, and like many parents, anticipating serious health issues doesn’t always come to mind. This is why Jason, Jayden’s father, was shocked when his four-month began having seizures, sometimes multiple times per day, causing his son severe pain. Jason was determined to do everything he could to help his son, a decision that eventually led him to medical marijuana.

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Years of Suffering

Jayden suffers from Dravet’s syndrome, a rare form of childhood epilepsy. [1] During his life, he has been rushed to the hospital 44 times in ambulances because of the severity and frequency of his seizures. 

Jason David took his son to numerous doctors and took one consultation after another. After years of this routine with little results, Jason decided enough was enough. His son needed something drastic and he was willing to try anything. He didn’t have much more money to spare and his insurance company wasn’t helping.

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“He’s in pain and suffering and crying,” said Jason. “You can’t help him no matter what. What are you supposed to do? You have to do whatever it takes to save their life.” 

He remembers calling his mother, nearly delirious with exhaustion and emotional turmoil, saying he can’t stand to see his son suffer anymore; he’d rather kill himself. His mother convinced him to keep going, that there will be light at the end of this torture.

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Jayden Begins Cannabis Oil Treatment

Jason got the idea of trying medical marijuana from a TV program and consulted with a few well-respected doctors. On June 4, 2011, the father gave his son cannabis oil, a nonpsychoactive kind of marijuana, in liquid form.

After a few days, there were already incredible results. For the first time in five years, Jayden had no seizures. After a few more days, Jayden’s mood improved as he was relieved of his pain. He was finally able to chew solid foods, walk, and take a bath.

He even started swimming, a feat impossible beforehand because any change in temperature triggered a seizure. For once, Jayden was happy to play in the water.

Now, he doesn’t just walk, he runs and climbs in a jungle gym by his local park. He loves going out for his favorite food, a cheeseburger with mushrooms.

Before cannabis oil, Jayden had been prescribed strong medications that are not recommended for 5-year-olds but were necessary for his symptoms. He was taking 22 pills per day to keep his seizures at bay. After he began the cannabis oil treatment, he was able to come off of the pills, which his father believes were stunting his development. [2]

“Instead of medical marijuana, this is miracle marijuana,” said Jason, smiling.

Children and Medical Marijuana

Jayden’s cannabis treatment is nonpsychoactive, meaning it won’t make him ‘high.’ Scientists distill marijuana to cannabidiols, which is said to contain the medicinal value of the drug. The main compound that is responsible for the anti-seizure effects is cannabidiol (CBD) [3]

Harborside Health Center, a medical marijuana clinic in Oakland, California, helped create the tincture Jayden takes. The center analyzes and tests marijuana before he consumes it. Harborside helps a number of child patients, including Jayden, with medical marijuana treatments.

“Parents don’t want to bring their children to something controversial like cannabis,” says Harborside’s executive director, Steven DeAngelo. “They do it reluctantly, and they do it because they’re at their wit’s end.”

DeAngelo states that children with severe epilepsy [7], autism, ADHD [4], and cancer [8] can be helped with medicinal marijuana. However, these patients face barriers to accessing this treatment. 

“What I worry about are the thousands and thousands of children like Jayden who are suffering unnecessarily, who I know we could help,” he says. “The only thing separating them from help are outdated rules that need to be changed.”

The Pros and Cons of Using Marijuana

Dr. Seth Ammerman, a pediatrician, and specialist in adolescent substance addiction does acknowledge anecdotal reports like Jayden’s. However, he does not condone marijuana treatment for kids. He warns that parents are often “flying by the seat of his or her pants” when it comes to administering this for sick children.

“I do think there’s potential for these cannabinoids to be medically relevant, but at this time we don’t know the risks,” says Ammerman. 

“We don’t know if these treatments are going to work for every given child or every given adolescent. There may well be serious side effects.” [5]

Meanwhile, Jason David swears by medical marijuana over any pharmaceutical drug that failed to treat Jayden’s Dravet’s syndrome.

Through all the challenges he’s suffered and the judgment he faces for his son’s unorthodox treatment, his drive is the hope that one day Jayden will say, “I love you,” a phrase Jason tells him numerous times every day.  

During an interview with CNN, Jayden, curled in his father’s arms, says something close to “I love you.”

“That’s all I want to hear,” says Jason, hugging his son tightly. “I’m really close.” [6]

Since Jayden, started taking cannabis oil in 2012 much has changed. Legalities around cannabis have changed drastically, and the FDA has even approved a CBD based drug known as Epidolex for the treatment of Dravet’s syndrome. 

  1. Dravet Syndrome https://www.epilepsy.com/learn/types-epilepsy-syndromes/dravet-syndrome
  2. First Canadian paediatric study of mixed THC/CBD cannabis oil shows promise for children with drug-resistant epilepsy http://www.sickkids.ca/AboutSickKids/Newsroom/Past-News/2018/first-canadian-paediatric-study-mixed-cannabis-oil-shows-promise.html
  3.  Cannabis, a complex plant: different compounds and different effects on individuals https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3736954/
  4.  Cannabidiol Based Medical Cannabis in Children with Autism- a Retrospective Feasibility Study (P3.318) https://n.neurology.org/content/90/15_Supplement/P3.318
  5.  FDA Regulation of Cannabis and Cannabis-Derived Products https://www.fda.gov/news-events/public-health-focus/fda-regulation-cannabis-and-cannabis-derived-products-questions-and-answers#children
  6. Medical marijuana helps stem 6-year-old’s seizures https://www.cnn.com/2012/12/10/health/medical-marijuana-child/index.html
  7.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6052624/
  8. https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/141/1/e20170559
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Sarah Biren
Founder of The Creative Palate
Sarah is a baker, cook, author, and blogger living in Toronto. She believes that food is the best method of healing and a classic way of bringing people together. In her spare time, Sarah does yoga, reads cookbooks, writes stories, and finds ways to make any type of food in her blender. Her blog The Creative Palate shares the nutrition and imagination of her recipes for others embarking on their journey to wellbeing.

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