A 5-year-old Arizona boy may be one step closer to getting medical marijuana to treat seizures caused by a genetic brain defect.
Zander Welton, from Mesa, Arizona, was born with cortical dysplasia, a genetic defect often associated as the cause of epilepsy. Combined with an autism diagnosis, Jennifer and Jacob Welton, have tried multiple treatments including medications, brain surgery and shock therapy to stop their son’s seizures – with little success, ABC News reports.
After hearing how some disabled children have benefited from medical marijuana, the Weltons began the process of making their 5-year-old a legal cardholder, the Associated Press reports. On Tuesday, the couple learned their application – which required two doctors to sign off on the treatment – was approved.
“If this finally works for Zander and I finally get to meet who he is, that would be amazing. Because I don't know who he is, he's just a little boy that's trapped in this craziness,” Jennifer Welton told KNXV.
They hope to give Zander marijuana oil drops using a syringe, known as CBD, as early as next week.
Zander has experienced seizures since he was 9 months old. He has had two brain surgeries and received shock therapy. The 5-year-old has seizures on a weekly basis that range from small twitches to severe ones where his body stiffens and he sometimes stops breathing. Zander is only able to walk a few steps at a time, and after a bad seizure, he crawls.
While CBD has not been found to be an effective treatment for epilepsy in the United States, it has been licensed in 22 other countries as safe treatment for patients with multiple sclerosis spasms, Dr. Orrin Devinsky, a professor of neurology and director of New York University Langone’s Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, told ABC News.
Dr. Steven Wolf, director of Pediatric Epilepsy at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York says more research must be done to show whether children will build a tolerance to CBD, making it ineffective to treat seizures.
“I can say if this was my kid and if there was a possibility it would work, I would certainly want to know,” Wolf said. “This is interesting, but this needs investigation.”
Jennifer Welton says she hopes to see Zander’s seizures stop and have him well enough to walk, run and interact.
“I don't want him stoned, I just want him better," she said.