A shipment of cannabis oil, made from the cannabidiol-rich strain called Charlotte’s Web from the United States, used for treating epilepsy in children, has been stopped by officials of the Canada Border Service Agency.
The patients who were expecting the medicinal cannabis oil are children with forms of epilepsy that have not responded to conventional treatments. Elaine Nuessler’s granddaughter, Kyla Williams, has an intractable form of epilepsy that causes hundreds of seizures a day. With the Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, Kyla’s seizures can be reduced to merely a handful per day.
“These children cannot be without this oil. It’s a terrible situation. Why is medical cannabis still such a threat?”
“I just wish the border officials could see the faces of the children they are affecting.”
The cause for the delay is unclear, as Kyla’s family has been importing Charlotte’s Web from the United States for over a year. CBSA stated that it is “illegal to import or export drugs including marijuana and its derivatives, whether medicinal or not.”
The Nuesslers with their granddaughter Kyla. (photo credit: Elaine Nuessler)
“Some are held due to the legal gray area for hemp products,” said Ryan Kingsbury, a spokesperson CW Botanicals who makes Kyla’s Charlotte’s Web oil. Because many unregulated CBD oils are already made in Canada, he is confident that the issue will be resolved, as his company has not experienced previous issues with any Canadian government agency.
Nuessler said the product is so low in the psychoactive cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that it should not be considered an illegal drug, and she questions how border officials are testing the product. Previously, Nuessler spent time in Colorado researching treatments for Kyla, and is an advocate for CBD treatments. “Charlotte’s Web has three years of expertise in making children’s CBD oil. This is a hybrid that is so great for kids. It is clean and organic,” she said.
Canadian companies who make high CBD treatments have reached out to Nuessler offering alternatives. She is hesitant to try these products that have lower concentrations of CBD, as well as trying a new medication that could be ineffective or even exacerbate Kyla’s condition. Testing new medications often involves a “wait and see” method that could leave Kayla suffering in the meantime.
Kyla’s family is one of several who are still waiting for their CBD oil. Kimberley Turkington’s daughter Ella is using Charlotte’s web to treat encephalopathy, autism and epilepsy. By using the cannabis treatment, they were able to reduce Ella’s seizures from hundreds to to 1 or 2 a day. Since incorporating CBD oil treatments, Ella is able to use less of the conventional drugs that cause sluggishness and unresponsive behavior, and her brain activity is improving.
“Our [neurologist] is thrilled, to say the least,”
reports Turkington. She’s worried that her daughter’s seizures will come back if she doesn’t receive the cannabis oil soon. “She will regress and become a zombie and non-verbal.”
“It scares me to my core,” she said. “I don’t want to end up in hospital with my kid cause of stupid politics.”