Newly legal cannabis oil helping St. Louis area boy with epileps - KMOV.com

Newly legal cannabis oil helping St. Louis area boy with epilepsy

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Cannabis plants (Credit: KMOV) Cannabis plants (Credit: KMOV)
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

Missouri’s first legal cannabis growth operation since the 1930’s is up and running and already helping patients with epilepsy.

Lafe McGee, 2, has suffered from severe seizures since he was born. When he was 1-year-old he was diagnosed with Dravet Syndrome.

“He was on four medications at one time,” said Dana McGee, mother. “They said he was basically a chemistry experience, they were just trying to find something that worked.”

Lafe is one of the nearly 20,000 people in Missouri who have intractable epilepsy. In 2014, the Missouri Legislature legalized cannabidiol oil, more commonly known as CBD oil for only patients with intractable epilepsy.

Earlier in 2016, Lafe nearly died from complications of his epilepsy.

“His heart stopped, they did CPR for six minutes,” said McGee.

Lafe survived and was told he was essentially out of options. But then the family was told they had been approved for CBD oil.

Mitch Meyers is the CEO of BeLEAF, one of two companies awarded licenses in the state to produce the CBD oil.

“Our first patient was a 3-year-old male, our second patient was a 32-year-old male and we’re having equal success for adults and children,” said Meyers.

Operating out of a warehouse in Earth City, currently, BeLEAF is treating around 20 patients with Noah’s ReLEAF, an oil made with the hemp. But while they hope to help hundreds more, there are hurdles.

“What we’re doing here is against the law in the eyes of the federal government. So it makes it a challenging business. Some vendors don't want to work with you, because they can’t participate in something that's federally illegal, were struggling with physicians,” said Meyers.

The other issue is for patients. The second company awarded the license in the state hasn’t gotten off the ground yet and they too are also based in the St. Louis area.

Patients from all over the state only have St. Louis as an option to obtain the oil, and that’s if they’re neurologist signs off on it.

Besides the legality issue, some still don’t fully understand CBD oil. The plants used to make Noah’s ReLEAF are not marijuana but hemp plants. Legally it must contain less than 0.3 percent THC.

“You cannot get high from these plants, you could smoke this whole room, or ingest it all in oil and there is not enough THC in this material that there’s no psychoactive effect,” explained Meyers.

The effect it does have according to McGee is nothing short of miraculous.

“[My son] says momma and dada, he says no, he messes with his brother, just things we never thought we would see,” said McGee.

Lafe is currently 41 days seizure free. But while the family knows there are only three months into the oil and that there is very little research, they are willing to that risk.

“The unknown really scared us as far as the side effects went but at the same time, they’re not going to be any worse than the side effects of the legal medication he was taking for three years,” said McGee. “Compared to now it’s just amazing the change, everything looks better about him.”

Copyright 2016 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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