When you think of pot, you probably don’t think of children, but for thousands of children, pot is exactly what allows them to be children, to live normal lives. In fact, children benefiting from cannabis have been a driving factor in medical legislation around the nation.
Just look at Genny Barbour from Maple Shade, New Jersey, who lives with autism and severe epilepsy or RayAnn Moseley of Gulf Breeze, Florida who suffers from cerebral palsy. These children not only derived life altering treatment from cannabis but their cases lead the way to significant changes in medical marijuana policy in their states. So, it shouldn’t shock you that Modesto, CA has just welcomed its first cannabis club designed to service children who rely on medical marijuana.
Jason David opened Jayden’s Journey in honor of his son, Jayden, who suffers from Dravet’s syndrome, a variety of intractable childhood epilepsy. In 2015, David began creating a high-CBD, low-THC potion called “Jayden’s Juice” and soon after, decided to open a dispensary geared toward helping other families.
Knowing that cannabis saved his son, the stated mission of Jayden’s Journey is to put weed in the hands of kids, to save other kids in the same way his own son was saved. Jayden’s Journey is about much more that marijuana though. It’s about finding new ways to fight illness. It’s about support and connecting families struggling with similar challenges.
“A quarter of a million people die a year from pharmaceuticals — the same ones we give our children, and nobody says a word”
David said. “When a child is sick, the whole family is sick. Someone has to make a change.”
Sharing is Caring
And make a change they did! Jayden’s Journey is making a difference in lives as young as six months old! Zya Mao is a six month old patient who is living with debilitating epilepsy. Jhoson Mao, her father, believes that cannabis oil is not only a safer alternative to prescriptions but states that “She feels present, her eye is not as wobbly as it used to be.” Zya is far from the only pediatric patient being helped by Jayden’s Journey either! Zoe Ridenour is an eight year old who battles ADHD ADD extreme. Her mother, Sherry Poe, says cannabis oil has drastically improved their lives. According to Poe, Zoe’s previous prescription drug regimen was unbearable, leaving Zoe with feelings of depression and life altering symptoms.
“She (had) started getting ticks, crying all the time. At one point, she told me she didn’t want to live anymore. Now, she sleeps. She’s gained weight. She’s happy; she smiles; she laughs.”
With just a few drops a day, Zoe’s life and made a vast improvement over the past year and a half. In fact, Zoe told reporters. “I went up four grade levels in school.” For kids like Zoe, cannabis oil is the difference between a normal life and a life of progressing disability. David had this to say for parents considering cannabis oil for their children, “If it doesn’t work, throw it away.” But for the many patients he sees, “it changes your life like it changes my son’s life.”
Support in Unlikely Places
Jayden’s Journey offers a place of solace and communion for parents of pediatric cannabis patients. Something that, for most parents, is invaluable. Having a support system in this battle is key and Jayden’s Journey provides an opportunity for parents to learn from each otherduring the process and lean on each other through the hurdles. It also provides an opportunity for the children to make friendships with others who understand what they are working through. These children benefit from having a place where they are not the anomaly but instead find themselves surrounded by others just like them, where they can just be kids, not “sick” kids.
The Future of Cannabis for Children
While, cannabis clubs for kids haven’t caught on yet, there are still plenty of ways parents can help their children with cannabis and find the support of a larger community. If you are considering cannabis oil as a treatment for your child, here are a few pieces of advice:
Tell your doctor: Whether your doctor is supportive or not, don’t be afraid to broach the topic. If your doctor isn’t on board, don’t be afraid to seek out a more progressive physician either. Having a physician on the team to order and interpret diagnostic tests and blood work and to manage overall care, is still a necessity.
Consult the professionals: Seek out professionals online and learn from them. Even if you can’t make the trip to see either of these physicians in person, here are two excellent physicians who can serve as resources for information through their books, published research, and practice. Dr. Bonni Goldstein wrote the book Cannabis Revealed and uses cannabis in her practice for epilepsy, cancer, autism, and even mental health conditions. Dr. Michelle Sexton is a naturopathic doctor who has done extensive research on cannabis and even sees patients via Telehealth. Of course, these are just two of the many doctors out there working with cannabis and kids.
Talk to other parents: Parents are the best source of knowledge when it comes to treating children with cannabis. They are on the front-lines and have some battle tested knowledge to share. You can find amazing networking opportunities on Facebook. A simple search for pediatric cannabis will provide you with a wealth of options for interacting with other parents.
Don’t give up: For most parents in the US, treating your child with cannabis will be an uphill battle, but don’t be afraid to fight that battle. Giving your child every chance at a full life is worth the battle. So, don’t give up!