Lawmaker seeks to legalize marijuana oil for NC children with severe epilepsy

Posted March 10, 2014
Updated March 14, 2014

— A state lawmaker is coming to the aid of North Carolina families desperate for help because their children suffer debilitating seizures.

Rep. Pat McElraft, R-Carteret, said she plans to file a bill that would legalize an oil extracted from a specific strain of marijuana, which parents and others have said has shown promise in children with Dravet Syndrome.

"We've got to do this for them. It's the only hope they have," McElraft said as she choked back tears.

Five-year-old Zora Carlin has Dravey Syndrome and has suffered up to 40 seizures a day since she was an infant. Her parents tried 14 different medications, various diets, vitamins and supplements to treat the condition without success.

"She's happy – (we're) reading with her or something – and the next minute, you know, she's on the floor, and she's into a full-blown seizure, turning blue," said her father, Steve Carlin. "Her quality of life is not advancing. She takes two steps forward and has a seizure, and takes five steps back. So, she's not advancing anywhere."

Other families have moved to Colorado to take advantage of Realm Oil, which is made from a strain of marijuana called Charlotte's Web. The oil is illegal in North Carolina.

Charlotte's Web has extremely low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, but has extraordinarily high levels of CBD, or cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive component that research shows has a growing number of therapeutic benefits.

"We've got to find a way to allow our North Carolina children to be able to take this," McElraft said. "I can't even imagine having to sit there as a parent having to watch (multiple daily seizures)."

Dr. Yael Shiloh-Malawsky, a pediatric neurologist at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill, says CBD oil is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. However, for someone like Zora, it’s worth giving the medication a try before it is approved, given the severity of her disorder.

Without some kind of improvement, she says, Zora is at a higher risk for Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy.

State lawmakers last year defeated a bill that would have legalized medical marijuana in North Carolina. McElraft said her bill, to be called "Hope for Haley" after a child in her district, will be different.

"It's not going to be about legalizing medical marijuana for adults. This is only about CBD oil for the children," she said, adding that she will write the bill to preclude prescriptions for adults.

Without a new law legalizing the marijuana oil in North Carolina, Carlin said he worries how long his daughter can survive.

"I'm feeling very excited, but I still know we have a lot of challenges," he said.


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  • garrarde Mar 18, 2014


  • lisaleigh49 Mar 17, 2014

    I am the mother of an adult mentally handicapped daughter with tuberous sclerosis that has intractable epilepsy. If the NC law is passed the oil will not be available her to access. This oil should be medically available to anyone.

  • rebeccaforbes013 Mar 13, 2014

    I have two types of confirmed diffuse and follicular Large B cell Lymphoma in remission in this God forsaken state and it is medically documented at UNC Cancer center. Cannabis oil is not just about kids with seizures, although it is heartwrenching to see these children suffer, adults suffer too. I will be making an appt. to see this representative and show her documented evidence of my remission. I have taken NO conventional medicine. Only Cannabis oil since 2010 and have worked on every single Cannabis bill in this state since 2009. It is time to have compassion not only for these children, but for all the sick and suffering patients in NC who could benefit from the use of Cannabis oil therapy and be alive and healthy like me. Rebecca Forbes... just google me.

  • ncouterbanks69 Mar 12, 2014

    View quoted thread

    But pot heads and crack heads are ok. Nice. My beef with this is paying for other people to use ANY kind of non-necessary vices. If we must feed/shelter the lazy we certainly should not provide them with nonessentials. The tax revenue would be great but it would be offset with all those that do like they do today....sell their freebies and buy smokes/booze and now you guys want dope added to the list.

  • goldenosprey Mar 12, 2014

    "I find it hypocritical that hardcore dems like goldensprey are all about legalizing this weed but are ok with the Dems wanting to take many of our other freedoms away like limiting our guns and how much ammo we can put in them, 32 oz. cokes, trans-fats, horse drawn carriages and so on. Legalize weed, make 32 oz cokes illegal. "

    Pretty sure I haven't weighed in on carriages. I've supported a surtax on all sugary drinks of any size - a diabesity tax.
    As for those 100 round magazines you need to hunt critters or protect your home because you are apparently a terrible shot, I remind you far more innocent citizens have been killed by mass shootings than mass bong hits.

  • Lysander Mar 12, 2014

    View quoted thread

    I'm not concerned over the judgement of my looks by strangers. I am however concerned about the state criminals and their games. Their attempted control over a plant is so ridiculous that one would laugh if families weren't destroyed, and people murdered by the government over it. It's taken the state this long to realize they can't the war on pot. Her attempt to, "to do the right thing", is merely a ploy to trick voters, like all political scams. Unfortunately there are too many statists on both sides of the aisle, still wearing blinders and lapping up what their told. Her tv evangelist act was a nice touch though.

  • KnowsItAll Mar 12, 2014

    View quoted thread

    if you're so worried about vices, then I guess you're in favor of criminalizing tobacco and recriminalizing alcohol? didn't work out all that well, but why should 2 DANGEROUS recreational drugs be legal and the others not? Who should decide what an adult chooses to put into their body? Sounds like the right-wingers on here - those supposedly suspicious of all things government - are all in favor of letting the gub'ment decide what they can ingest or not.

    makes perfect sense to me.

    Legalize everything or criminalize everything. I'm against special privileges for alcohol and nicotine addicts!

  • Objective Scientist Mar 12, 2014

    We already use medicinally various substances and compounds from a huge variety of plants, animals, insects, and the earth itself. I have absolutely NO problem - even truly question why it has not already been done - with using anything from the marijuana plant as a medicine to cure illness and/or alleviate suffering! Why are we not already doing that for marijuana compounds that science has shown to be beneficial? I am NOT "on board" for legalizing "recreational use" of marijuana, but medicinally - ABSOLUTELY!!!

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Mar 12, 2014

    Legalize & regulate just like tobacco or alcohol and...

    1- Increase freedom & liberty. Stop using Big Government to control how people live their lives. It’s what Conservatives *say* that they value, right?...so why do they overwhelmingly oppose legalization?

    2- Reduce jail population by 15% to make room for REAL criminals

    3- NC could grow pot like no other State in the Union (like tobacco)...and make a boatload of cash...AND cut our taxes

    4- Myriad health benefits


  • LastSon1981 Mar 12, 2014

    It seems funny to me that a Republican is pushing for this because it is effecting someone close to them but atleast they are pushing for it.