Article by Denise Ryan, Vancouver Sun
When Mandy McKnight’s 10-year-old daughter got her first “drug talk” in school last year, the teacher asked if any kids in the Ottawa-area Grade 6 class had ever seen any drugs. McKnight said her daughter’s hand shot up. She told her teacher she had seen drugs, said McKnight — pharmaceutical drugs. Her daughter explained to the class that she’d also seen cannabis, but that she didn’t see cannabis as a drug. It was a medicine, one that had helped her little brother Liam, who suffered from epilepsy.
That a 10-year-old was the one to lead an educational talk on medicinal marijuana in her Grade 6 classroom is a point of pride to McKnight, but also a source of frustration. McKnight was one of three parents of kids that have been helped by medicinal marijuana, who took to the stage at LIFT Cannabis Expo in Vancouver on Sunday, to advocate for wider education among public and physicians, deeper research and greater funding.
Cannabis was a last resort for McKnight’s family. Liam, now 8, suffers from Dravet syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy. He had up to 80 grand mal seizures a day, despite being on multiple conventional medications and a special diet. Although cannabis oil hasn’t cured Liam, it has enabled him to experience up to 10 seizure-free days at a time.
“Liam is not in the hospital any more for two weeks at a time, taking up a hospital bed,” said McKnight. Before switching from pharmaceutical drugs to cannabis oil, McKnight said the family was calling an ambulance for Liam as often as twice a week. McKnight said the improvement they’ve seen in Liam since starting with cannabis oil has been “a miracle.”