Although more than half of the United States have legalized the use of cannabis, in one form or another, for medicinal use. It remains illegal on the federal level.
When Genny Barbour was just a baby, her parents noticed that occasionally her eyes would turn to the side and her arms would jerk for no apparent reason. After consulting with doctors, she was diagnosed with infant spasms. At age 16, now diagnosed with autism and epilepsy, Genny has tried just about every treatment that doctors recommended, including having part of her frontal lobe removed when she was just two years old. Medications often left her catatonic. Despite the best efforts of her medical team, she continued to have seizures every other day.
Roger Barbour, Genny’s father, stated:
“I can’t tell you how many times she’s had such a hard seizure that I’ve prayed to God, ‘Dear Lord Jesus Christ, please do not take my daughter today,’ thinking she’s going to expire right in front of me.”
As other treatments failed, Roger and his wife Lora turned to medical cannabis as a last resort to save their daughter’s life. Genny’s medicine is prescribed by a doctor and prepared by wrapping marijuana in cheesecloth and letting it bathe in coconut oil inside of a slow cooker. Lora gives her daughter the oil via dropper or mixed in with soda. She says:
“You’re giving your 16-year-old child marijuana, but it’s medicine. It’s the best medicine that’s ever worked.”
Not only has marijuana helped Genny to experience fewer seizures, but her parents also say that since she has started taking it she has been more alert and is starting to talk again. One of Genny’s former teachers, Terri Sautter, commented on her progress:
“She’s starting to sing again. She’s doing so well.”
In order to stay seizure-free, Genny needs four doses of marijuana a day as prescribed by her doctor. She gets the first dose in the early morning before she goes to school, and the next dose is supposed to be administered at noon, which is during school hours. Despite a New Jersey law that legalizes marijuana for the treatment of certain medical conditions, officials at the school district have refused to give it to her, citing that state law prohibits the medicine from being administered on school grounds.
Genny Barbour’s mother, Lora, measures medical marijuana. Maple Shade, NJ (John Munson | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)
If Genny does not take the medicine before school hours end, the seizures return. As a result, Lora has been picking her up every day at noon and taking her home to give her the cannabis oil. Due to this routine, it has been eight days since Genny had a seizure, but her parents also worry about her losing half a day at school.
Several months ago, the Barbours requested special permission from the Office of Special Education to allow their daughter to take the dose of cannabis oil while at school, but that request was denied. They then turned to the Office of Administrative Law, but Judge John Kennedy sided with the school district policy.
The Barbours have now requested an appeal and will stand before Judge Kennedy to plead their case once again on June 25. The hearing’s result may still not end this battle, as either side can appeal the decision rendered. However, the Barbours remain confident and optimistic that they will win the lawsuit.