In Mexico City, 8 year old Graciela Elizalde lives with a rare disease that makes her suffer from up to 400 epileptic convulsions every day. Despite having to endure surgery and seeking out alternative treatments, her epileptic fits “have greatly grown in intensity, force, and frequency” her mother said. Grace’s parents were losing hope in finding relief for their daughter until they learned about a child in the US state of Colorado whose epilepsy improved thanks to cannabidiol.
Despite Mexico’s prohibition, Grace’s parents sought out a permit from the health ministry, which was rejected. The family was forced to hire an attorney, who then took their case to court. On Aug. 17, Judge Martin Santos ruled on this case, extending legal protection to authorities who permit Graciela Elizalde’s parents to import a medicine containing cannabidiol, a substance banned by Mexico’s General Law of Health. While Grace doesn’t know it, this case is making history in Mexico.
“A girl has removed the first brick from the wall of the absurd prohibition in Mexico,” said Fernando Belaunzaran, a former leftist lawmaker who championed a failed bid to legalize medicinal marijuana. He said her case could set a precedent for people who want such treatments for other illnesses such as cancer and multiple sclerosis.
“It has been demonstrated time and again that many components of marijuana are effective” to alleviate Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, said Gady Zabicky, a psychiatrist who wrote a recommendation to the judge who ruled in Grace’s case.
While significant progress has been made into research of medical marijuana and cannabidiol, the New York Times notes that many journalistic explorations of medical marijuana have slammed into the same brick wall: The definitive, rigorous studies that inform our use of other drugs simply do not exist for this one. Instead, the pundits must extrapolate from studies that are at best suggestive, and often augmented by a certain amount of wishful thinking.
“You’d think it would be easy enough to collect a group of people suffering from any of the dozens of unhappy conditions marijuana is said to help, randomize them to active or placebo joints, then tally the results. But a long list of obstacles blocks this standard approach when it comes to marijuana.” In order to help children like Grace properly treat their epileptic convulsions, it is important that these studies are properly supported by their government and academic institutions.