For the past two years, I have faced a battle that has become increasingly more difficult to fight. I know that there are countless people who are in the same boat as me, wondering how they are going to make it through the day. I’ve watched them, helpless to do anything about the pain they are in. I’ve watched them cry and scream, not knowing how they are going to make it through the day.

There is a stigma surrounding cannabis in our society. Although it won’t be legal in the United States anytime soon, sometimes, we forget about the people whose lives are really affected by the plant. Like most of our readers, I am a firm believer in cannabis as being a medication, but I’m also a firm believer in it as a form of medicine and treatment. If you’re thinking about giving this plant a try, here’s how I suggest you do it.

Like many others in the medical marijuana community, I have watched the legalization movement unfold over the past few years. I’ve seen the laws change and the stigma fade, as more and more people are coming out of the shadows and admitting that medical marijuana has helped them in ways that conventional medicine just couldn’t.

Gavin Dawes, aka G-Man, is a young man who will capture your heart. Her story, like that of many others, is linked to the struggle for access to a drug that changed her quality of life for the better. Gavin suffers from epilepsy. In his home state of Kansas, he would not have had access to high-THC medical cannabis. As a mother who can empathize with this pain, I am outraged that Kansas legislators and elected officials are still debating whether or not to legalize cannabis. A very unpleasant man named Eric Voth, an internist representing the Kansas Medical Society, believes that cannabis has no place as medicine. During a recent debate, Kansas lawmakers heard Voth say that cannabis should not be approved as medicine. You have to hold the line. Unlike many other states, we should be proud of our defense. People like Dr. Voth are the reason such families are forced to leave their families, friends and homes in Kansas. Good job holding the line. Do you want to hold the line… ? I’m stopping here – enough of this reclusive, draconian, apathetic, angry man. Meet an extraordinary family, an extraordinary mother and an extraordinary young man named Gavin, aka G-Man. To give you a personal feel of this story, I spoke with Gavin’s mother, Melissa Ragsdale. After talking to her, I decided it would be best to keep this story in question and answer form. So you can see with your own eyes what this family has been through.

Meet Melissa Ragsdale and her son Gavin Dose

Ashley Priest: Who you are, where you’re from, where you live now and why you moved. (In your own words, briefly tell us something about yourself and your family). Melissa Ragsdale: My name is Melissa Ragsdale. I was born and raised in Stillwell, Kansas. I have been married to my husband Brandon for 14 years and we have four children. Dillan – 21, Caleb – 14, Gavin – 11 and Isaiah – 9. I worked as a hairdresser for 13 years and became a housewife when our son Gavin was diagnosed with a rare form of epilepsy. How old was Gavin when he was diagnosed and what was the medical term for his illness? Gavin’s first seizure was a tonic-clonic seizure when he was three years old. It took two years for the correct diagnosis to be made, as he had several different types of seizures after the first one. Gavin has six types of seizures, which can result in hundreds of seizures a day. Her diagnosis is astatic myoclonic epilepsy. What kind of medical procedures/medications were Gavin prescribed? Gavin has been taking various medications to control his seizures. Some of these drugs were;

  • ONFI
  • Depakote
  • Lacosamide
  • Keppra
  • Valium
  • Midazolam
  • Topamax
  • Colonapin
  • Zonisamide
  • Ativan

I’m sure I missed a few. Gavin tried these drugs separately and in many combinations and failed. Gavin did not survive the special diet, he also has a device to stimulate the vagus nerve. Why did you decide to try medical cannabis for Gavin? Gavin was diagnosed with drug-resistant epilepsy (DRE) after several medications failed. She was also diagnosed with worsening seizures due to all the medications. Gavin’s seizures are generalized, meaning they start in one area of the brain and spread to other areas, so more than one type of seizure can occur at the same time. A drug can help treat one type of seizure while making other types of seizures worse. Specialists administer medication in rotation to stop the seizures. word-image-961 Gavin’s side effects included hallucinations, crying for hours a day, anger, harmful thoughts and actions, inability to concentrate, loss of balance, drooling, etc. The doctors had nothing else to try for Gavin. We heard from Charlotte Feagy and other kids like Gavin who found relief through cannabis treatment in Colorado, which finally allowed Gavin safe access in November 2017. What kind of medicinal cannabis does Gavin use? Gavin is now cured of his seizures by using a THC indica tincture that contains only trace amounts of CBD. After spending time in Colorado, Gavin has benefited from the use of cannabinoids such as THCA, CBD, THC and CBN. Gavin needs access to different cannabinoids to control different types of seizures, just as he needs access to medication. He uses a nasal spray with THC as a lifeline during seizures. What positive results from the use of medicinal cannabis have you seen in Gavin? Gavin has become a much happier and calmer child. He was able to gain weight and grow in a way he couldn’t under the influence of medication and with constant seizures. Cannabis has given Gavin a chance to live a normal life. Gavin is successful in all areas. Has the use of cannabis had any negative consequences? Gavin experienced no adverse behavioral or cognitive effects from the use of medicinal cannabis. We’ve noticed that Gavin has been very sensitive to CBD since he hit puberty, which has made his binge eating and blackouts worse. He can tolerate CBD only in trace amounts. Gavin is healthier and happier than ever. Can you tell us about Gavin then and Gavin now? Before we arrived in Colorado, Gavin was very small for his age. He had problems with weight gain and height. Gavin had many emotional and behavioural problems as he lived with constant daily seizures. He felt very isolated and often embarrassed in public. Gavin’s seizures significantly affected his ability to learn and remember information. Gavin also suffered numerous head and facial injuries from seizures in Kansas. Since receiving cannabis therapy in Colorado, Gavin has been seizure-free for nearly two of his three years.  Gavin is about to catch up with his classmates. He can learn without being interrupted by seizures. Gavin no longer takes sedatives, which failed to stop his seizures and severely impaired his ability to learn. Gavin no longer has to wear a helmet all the time to protect himself. Gavin doesn’t have to worry about injuries and falls anymore. Gavin can play sports, ride a bike and is a normal boy when the seizures are under control. What would you say to lawmakers and elected officials in the state of Kansas, which still has a draconian federal ban on cannabis? To the Kansas state legislators and officials who have done nothing on the issue of medical cannabis for over a decade: Shame on you! It is your duty to protect the citizens of Kansas, especially the most desperate among them. Research shows that cannabis is a safe, non-toxic drug that can (and should) be used to relieve and end suffering from a wide range of conditions and diseases. Our family was separated, forced to leave our home state and everything we knew and loved. It’s time for the #Ksleg to pass comprehensive medical cannabis legislation so that no other family has to endure what our family went through. The time is always right to do the right thing ~MLK word-image-2386

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