By Dean Stephens
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — A Lowcountry mom on a mission worked for months to get a law passed allowing parents to possess cannabadoil, an oil extracted from marijuana shown to help children with seizures.
Gov. Nikki Haley signed the bill into law in June. Now Jill Swing wants to the state to do even more.
Swing is on an endless journey, one with life-changing twists and turns. The last time Swing sat down for an interview, she said she had never heard her daughter say, “I love you.”
That’s since changed.
“She has said that since she started taking CBD oil. Of course it’s something every parent wants to hear, those words,” she said.
Or in Swing’s case, she’s happy to hear any words. Mary Louise’s vocabulary had been repressed, freed only after Swing started giving her CBD oil a month ago.
“That was the weekend we started the oil. She said, ‘Hi everybody,’ said it clear as day,” Swing said. “She said it twice. I thought, ‘She didn’t say that!’ She said it again — it was shocking. I could not believe she said it. ‘Hi,’ maybe, ‘Hi everybody,’ never.”
This mother’s answered prayer has not gone unnoticed at Mary Louise’s school.
“Quack, quack, and all those words. She even said this morning Daniel, one of her classmates, name, clear as day,” Swing said.
Teresa Picciotto works with Mary Louise on a daily basis.
“Her verbals are the most impressive thing, and stability just doing things. A lot of her goals are hitting targets,” she said.
All this in a relatively short period of time. Mary Louise still has seizures but they have dropped from hundreds to just 50 a day.
“I think I had hope more than true expectations, like all the other medicines we’ve given her we’ve never really known whether it was gong to work or not,” Swing said. “This is truly individualized medicine. It does take some trial and error to get it figured out, and at this point we just have to get whatever we can get our hands on and that’s what we have.”
And that’s Swing’s next battlefront.
“If we had somebody in our state growing the marijuana, turning it into oils to give to our children, we would have a lot more opportunity for success,” she said.
It’s a glimmer of hope for not only the Swing family but for thousands of parents just like her around the Palmetto State.
Politicians say it’s still too early to say if marijuana is on the verge of being legalized in South Carolina. But parents of children affected by a variety of illnesses are hopeful it is legalized — and soon.
For Swing, it’s been one step at a time. She was front and center in getting the law passed over the summer. But possessing the oil is one thing; getting it is a completely different battle.
“We are still underground. It is a very, very gray area, but there are people out there who see a need and are willing to help children who are suffering, and they are shipping products for us to try,” Swing said. “We need to expand it to other conditions because I think someone else’s child with cancer is just as important as my child with epilepsy.”
Parents suffering from several disorders made their pleas before the committee in October as well.
Swing also brought in Dr. Robert Melamede who is recognized as a leading authority on therapeutic uses of cannabis.
“Once you see one of these children go from hundreds of seizures a day to zero, or see someone with terminal brain cancer and it goes away, or watch skin cancer fall off, how do you deny that? How do you ignore it?” he asked.
As part of the legislation signed into law by Haley, the Medical University of South Carolina will start conducting trials using CBD oil with children affected by a certain type of epilepsy.
Dr. Jonathon Halford will oversee the trial.
“There are not many medications that can help this particular type of epilepsy in these children. They have really very few options and they’ve tried them all. They tried medications for years so it’s great to see a compound come out with great results in the small study that’s been done so far,” he said.
So far, Swing will say there’s a difference in her daughter. So now she’s turning to help parents get that same kind of hope.
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