Why I've Changed my Mind on Medical Marijuana

8:34 AMHeather

There are two kinds of stories we encounter in life.

Those that are distant and objective, like a news story or an article that is not particularly relevant. So we tend to form opinions and stances and feel rather strongly -- rather black and white. And it's so easy to be the expert. From a safe distance. Even if you don't know the whole story. 

Then, there are those stories that get personal. The kind where we come to know the people more intimately. We see the story in context. We tend to gather more facts and things that were once black and white become more gray.

Last night, this news story ran on the local ABC channel, WFAA.

You might watch it and form an opinion.

By the way, please, I beg of you--do take time to watch it.

This might cause you to land firmly on the ridiculousness of legalizing medical marijuana. Cause marijuana is bad. It kills brain cells. It's an illegal drug, for pete's sake. For some valid reason.

That's where I would land.

Firmly in my conservative camp of "that is crazy talk"--legalizing medial marijuana.

Except for one thing.

That news story actually falls into the second category for me. Because it's about some very dear friends. And suddenly, knowing them as intimately as our family does, it changes everything.  

It's a game changer.

And like Lauren says in the video, if you'd have asked me about legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes, I'd have laughed at such audacity. That's just crazy talk, like I said.

Until you get the facts. Until you know the people behind the story.

It's few friendships where I can remember exactly how and where we first met. But, I can tell you that I first met Lauren and her daughters on President's Day weekend at a mutual friend's house, three years ago. Our husbands were all out of town, so we were all just hanging out with our kids.

We now call President's Day Weekend our "friend-a-versary."

And honestly, I was familiar with Lauren's daughter, Shelby, because I had seen her at our children's school. In her wheelchair. But I didn't know them at all.

It was quick and immediate that our hearts were knit in a kindred spirit. And here's what I've come to know about this precious family. 

Lauren and Chuck are extraordinary parents. They are a rare breed. Their daily life is full of medications and medical decisions and constant care for a special needs child while also balancing the needs of a "normal functioning" child. Then, there are the demands of both of them working. And the joy of being involved with their two grandchildren and nieces and extended family and church and leading a church small group and being available to friends.

The fact that they do it all on a constant loop of sleep deprivation blows my mind. Because this girl needs my sleep. And obviously, so do Lauren and Chuck. But they rarely get a full night's sleep.

Because Shelby seizes every single night. Every single night, she is up and their sleep is disturbed and they've had to work out a system of trading off nighttime duty. Her seizures cause her to call out "no." While Chuck and Lauren are usually left wondering how Shelby feels since her verbal skills are limited, she sends a clear signal with this one word.

She is stuck in a body that is not functioning as it should. And she doesn't like it.

And while I would be a crazy, mad and unpleasant person with such demands and such little sleep, not Lauren and Chuck. I would be a raving maniac and the worst person ever to be around. However, they never complain and they seem to take it all in stride. They work hard at their team work and their marriage. And there is a joy and a hope that is obvious and apparent, despite their constant daily and nightly demands.

And lest you think this couple just manages their own crazy lives well, let me tell you.

They'd be the first to arrive in the middle of the night if you needed them.

In fact, they have. I can speak to this first hand.

And knowing this couple, who loves Jesus and pours themselves out to live and love well and to serve others and to follow their Lord in all they do, gleaning their strength and endurance from him... I've changed my mind on medical marijuana.

Because I've gained some facts in context of someone whose life could dramatically change for the better if this option were available.

The Sparks have tried dozens of drugs, constant therapies, and frequent doctor visits. Shelby functions on a preschool level. It's rather hard to say how much of that is her Dravet Syndrome, and how much of it is the drugs that it takes to ATTEMPT to control her seizures.

So Lauren and Chuck have thoroughly researched their options. They are level headed, conservative and concerned parents. They are actively involved in the small Dravet community, and they give back by serving on boards and volunteering and thoroughly researching available options.

You know, in all their free time.

When they first began to hear of families who had been using this form of medical marijuana--CBD oil, or Cannabidiol, they were skeptical. And reluctant. I can testify to this, as I've walked through this journey with them.

But then, the stories seemed so optimistic. The truth is that this CBD oil, this derivative of medical marijuana is extremely low in THC content. Meaning you don't get high from it. 

And for whatever reason--whatever the science behind it--it is having dramatic results for other children suffering like Shelby. Other children who also face dozens of seizures daily, even while on medication. What is happening is that families are seeing their children finally be able to be taken off of medications and to have their seizures reduced to a point where their children's ability to function changes. As does the quality of life for the entire family.

From what I witness on a regular basis for this amazing family, even a small improvement could make a world of difference.

Other families whose children suffer from seizures are becoming medical refugees and moving to Colorado where this drug is available, with the supervision of a physician who oversees each case. 

This is not an option for my friends.

But if others can open their minds to the facts of this matter, and consider what THIS type of medical marijuana is really about, then I think it could be life changing. 

I do not take my endorsement of this lightly. I do so only after all that I have learned from Lauren and Chuck who have so carefully researched their options. 

Today, the Sparks are in Austin. To sit by during the hearings on HB 892, which was introduced by State Rep Stephanie Klick (R-Fort Worth). The State Senate will hear its version (SB 339) on Wednesday. 

There are just 35 days left for this bill to pass. Time is running out. 

But I am hopeful.

And I am prayerful.

And while a year ago, I'd have thought you nuts if you said I'd be writing a blog post on legalizing medicinal marijuana, it just goes to show that sometimes when you hear a news story, you don't have all the facts.

But when you watch the personal story of someone you love, you seek to get all the facts.

And it can open your mind to things you had not previously considered.

Let me be clear-- I am not saying that I support the legalization of all kinds of marijuana. But the spectrum is wide and the uses are varied. And there is currently a strain of medicinal marijuana that is not used to get high.

But if it were legal here, it might be used to change the lives of one of the dearest families I know.

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