Marijuana oil popularity grows in Kentucky


by Melissa Swan

Posted on February 11, 2014 at 12:49 AM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 11 at 1:01 AM

Should medical marijuana be legalized in Kentucky?

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – When Paige and Alex jump on the backyard trampoline they seem like typical kids.  But epilepsy and autism make their lives far from typical.

Both of their mothers describe the violent, erratic behavior the two children often display.

“She will flat out knock anybody out.  She will spit on them, hit them, kick them.  She goes into these screaming fits; she puts holes in the walls, Paige’s mother Brenda Charles said.

Alex’s mother, Suzanne De Gregorio says it’s much the same at her house.

“He would bite his arms up and down ‘til they bruised.  Holes in the walls, try to jump out of moving vehicles, dragging me by my hair.  It was heartbreaking the pain he was in,” she said.

These two Kentucky mothers say Cannabidiol, CBD for short, comes from marijuana and has great promise for easing the suffering and seizures.  They say they have seen it in the children who have moved to other states specifically so their children can get CBD oil.

“It’s not psychoactive, it’s not smoked, it’s an oil.  In children who are taking it seems to be ending epilepsy as we know it,” Suzanne said.

That’s been the experience for the Rollins family.  Joe and Erica Rollins moved with their 4 year old daughter Emily, to Colorado Springs, Colorado last year to get CBD oil.

“We went from her having 100 seizures a day average to the very next after starting CBD only having 3.  It was crazy,” Joe said.

The Rollins aren’t alone.  It’s estimated at least 10 families from the Kentucky area have moved to Colorado to get CBD oil for their children.  The term “marijuana refugee” has been coined for the parents.   But Erica Rollins says they’re not refugees they are parents doing what’s best for their children.

However, she says the family cannot return to Indiana or Kentucky with Emily’s CBD oil.  

“If we leave the state with her medication we are considered drug traffickers.  We would go to jail, we would pay a fine and we would likely lose custody just because we are trying to do the best thing for our daughter,” Rollins said.

When they arrived in Colorado, Emily was taking several medications for her seizures and she was on a special diet.  The Rollins say with CBD there’s been a dramatic difference.

“We’ve been able to get Emily off all her medication, off that crazy diet.  We’re living our lives now,” Erica said.

Joe says the difference in his child’s awareness has been dramatic as well.

“After 4 years it’s like I’m just now going to get to meet my daughter and that’s awesome.”

The Kentucky mothers WHAS11 interviewed say they want their shot at that kind of  “awesome.”   They are finding support.

A Louisville doctor who specializes in epilepsy, Dr Chris Shafer, says he is willing to prescribe CBD if and when it becomes legal.

“It appears to be safe the side effects are drowsiness.  It virtually has no THC so there is virtually no psychoactive component,” Dr. Shafer said. “You could argue that it appears to be much safer than many of the medications we’re using today.”

Now for the first time, Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rodney Brewer tells WHAS11 News his agency will not oppose the use of CBD oil in Kentucky.

“If it’s proved by medical research that it does have positive effects toParent people certainly we’re in favor of that,” Commissioner Brewer said.

Brewer stands firm against medical marijuana in general.

“Very often it becomes a storefront for people to purchase recreational marijuana,” he explains.

The mothers say progress is being made but the fight for CBD oil for their children is far from over.

DeGregorio says you shouldn’t underestimate these parents.

”There’s a rule in nature.  Don’t poke the mama bear because we’re going to stand up and fight.”

DeGregorio is also exploring ways to produce CBD oil from hemp.   That would remove some of the legal barriers.

However, even the groups fighting for medical marijuana disagree on this issue. Some believe fighting for CBD alone is a bad idea.

They say all of the marijuana plant is needed to treat many the severe symptoms.

Meanwhile, Kentucky State Senator Julie Denton has filed a bill that would allow Kentucky research hospitals, UK and UofL, to prescribe CBD oil and use it in clinical trials.