GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn – Six months into Minnesota’s medical cannabis program, a Golden Valley four year old is running up and down stairs, climbing over furniture, writing on walls, and running through the aisles of Target, toddler milestones her parents never thought possible.
“We jokingly call them “inchstones”, but we celebrate them,” said Beth Hundley, Harlow’s mother. “It gives her this life and energy and enthusiasm we didn’t have before. She has real tears now, and can truly feel emotions. She is living.”
Harlow has Dravet Syndrome, and began having seizures as an infant that progressed to dozens of seizures a day. When pharmaceutical medicines failed to control her intractable epilepsy, the Hundleys turned to medical cannabis as a hopeful option, when it was legalized July 1st.
“When I got the medicines I had hesitations, you think it’s going to be a miracle, you want it to be a miracle for your daughter, and we had a huge reduction in seizures, right away we were seeing 50-80 percent reduction in daily seizures. Immediately gone, we had some days where we were 99 percent seizure free so we were pinching ourselves,” said Hundley.
Harlow began to play with more enthusiasm and curiosity than ever before, and began to use more words, saying “hi” to everyone she meets.
Since the initial improvements, the frequency of seizures crept back up, prompting her parents to talk to the professionals at MinnMed, a medical cannabis manufactures in Minneapolis, about her dosage.
“We are still trying to find that sweet spot but in the meantime, we still try to enjoy all the goodness we are getting,” said Hundley. “She is still having seizures, they call it intractable epilepsy for a reason, but it has made such a difference and to have safe legal access to it.”
Currently, around 920 people, and nearly 500 health care practitioners participate in the medical cannabis program.
The Minnesota Medical Cannabis program will focus on outreach to providers in the new year to inform the medical community how the program works, in anticipation of next July when patients with intractable pain will be added to the program.