Two-year-old Vivian Wilson has a rare form of epilepsy that ravages her body with seizures so severe she is unable to function, and could prove fatal. In other states with medical marijuana laws, young children with Dravets Syndrome have seen their life transformed by a strain of medical marijuana that curbed the seizures like no other treatment, and with fewer debilitating side effects.
But New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) is sitting on a bill that would give Vivian and other minors access to the treatment. And on Wednesday, Vivian’s father Brian Wilson confronted him on the matter: “Please don’t let my daughter die, Governor,” Brian Wilson told him during a meet-and-greet at a local diner.
“These are complicated issues,” Christie responded. But he committed to make a decision on whether to sign the bill by Friday.
New Jersey is already among the 20 states with medical marijuana laws, but it contains stringent limits for minors. A bill passed by the state legislature about two months ago would ease access to the drug for minors with conditions like Vivian’s, by permitting access to edible forms of marijuana, which are the only mechanism for consumption for a young child; and lifting a provision that allows only three strains of marijuana for medical consumption. The bill would also lower the number of required doctor recommendations from 3 to 1.
In a CNN documentary that aired Sunday, Colorado parents explained the battle they endured trying to find two doctors who would sign off on marijuana for their young child, and in finding a source to supply a special rare strain of marijuana that is low in the psychoactive component of marijuana, THC, and high in another component believed to alleviate seizures, CBD. But while they were limited by logistical obstacles and the federal prohibition on marijuana use for any purpose, Colorado’s medical marijuana bill permitted them access to the strain they needed, in edible form.
Charlotte Fiji’s story was one of many that prompted CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta to reverse his position on the medical benefits of marijuana. In an op-ed previewing the CNN documentary, Gupta explained how federal prohibition leaves a cloud hanging over medical marijuana, suppressing research and threatening criminal prosecution, particularly for distributors.