Local News

Passage of marijuana oil bill symbolizes hope for family of child with seizures

Posted June 26, 2014 10:37 p.m. EDT

— Zora Carlin’s parents cried and prayed when she had her first seizure at 6 months old.

Zora, now 5, has up to 60 seizures a day, which have slowed her development and could kill her.

On Thursday, tears and uncertainty turned to joy when Zora’s parents learned that Gov. Pat McCrory will sign a measure legalizing the use of CBD oil to treat seizures.

“It takes your heart out and stomps on it every time,” Zora’s father, Steve, said of the seizures.

“All you can do is sit there and tell her you love her,” said her mother, Dawn.

Zora has a rare, hard-to-treat and debilitating form of epilepsy known as Dravet Syndrome, which there is no cure. Her parents say they have tried 14 different medications, various diets, vitamins and supplements, but they’ve had little to no effect on their daughter’s condition.

"She would rip the skin off her legs and scratch herself until she is bleeding - bang her head," Dawn Carlin said of the medications.

CBD stands for cannabidiol, a compound found in marijuana. The oil is being increasingly used by doctors to treat intractable seizure disorders, especially in children, for which other therapies are ineffective and often toxic.

As of now, the oil is illegal in North Carolina – until McCrory signs House Bill 1220 into law.

“This law will help ease the suffering endured by children from whom no other treatments are effective against their seizures,” the governor said in a statement Thursday. “I want to congratulate the General Assembly for crafting a bill that not only improves the lives of many North Carolina children and their parents, but also provides common sense regulation and facilitates clinical research at our major research universities.”

The measure passed the House 112-1 and the Senate 45-0.

As the bill moved through the legislature, Steve Carlin attended committee meetings and spoke about his daughter’s condition.

"I'm on my knees here. I'm begging you," Carlin told the Senate Rules Committee on Wednesday.

His family was in the House chamber when the bill was approved by legislators. Zora clapped after it passed.

“It was a very surreal, like, wow, we are here,” Steve Carlin said of that moment.

On Thursday, Zora’s parents gave each other a high-five when they learned McCrory intends to sign the measure into law.

"I thank all of the people who have been behind us and I have nothing but love for them," Steve Carlin said.