A federal judge recently ruled that 11 year-old Ashley Surin would be able to bring her medical marijuana to her Illinois public school. Ashley developed seizures after her battle with childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
The cannabidiol lotions and oils she uses topically, and patches she wears, controls her seizures and other conditions that would otherwise leave her mind too cloudy for an organized classroom setting. Unfortunately, due to Illinois and federal laws, initially the school prohibited her from attending classes with the medical marijuana patch and oils with a need to take the cannabis medication on school premises.
“The two together are a golden cure for her,” her mother, Maureen Surin, said through tears after an emergency hearing in Chicago earlier this month. “She can think better, walk better, talk better. Her brain used to be like in a cloud. Now she can think better and is more alert and she can interact.”
Ashley was a toddler in December 2008, when she was diagnosed with childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Her doctors gave the little girl several rounds of chemotherapy and spinal injections to fight the cancer. The treatment sent her cancer into remission, but one of the spinal injections triggered seizures. She’s been plagued by debilitating seizures since the age of 2, and remained on a number of medications with several serious side effects. The prescriptions helped, but they weren’t a cure.
One full body seizure at a grocery store last year sent her to the hospital. She hit her head on the cement floor with such force doctors had to drain the blood from her brain. “It was the most helpless feeling in the world to see her go down and not be able to help,” Jim Surin said. Recovery was slow.
When doctors wanted to try a fourth drug last August, Jim Surin said, “We drew a line in the sand.” Instead, they found a doctor who suggested a change in diet and cannabis would be a better alternative. The Surins got their medical marijuana license in December.
Illinois’s medical marijuana program is very limited, however the federal judge may have set a strong marijuana precedent for other people that have found relief with marijuana and need to consume it on a regular basis, including in public spaces. What is the likelihood that other federal judges will rule similarly in favor of patients that need to take cannabis medication in public in the face of federal prohibition?