An eight year old girl in Monterrey, Mexico suffering from a severe form of epilepsy will be permitted to import and consume cannabidiol (CBD) oil as treatment. The parents of Grace Elizade, with the help a legalization friendly lawmaker, had previously requested special permission from the Mexican government to legally import the oil. The request was made using a part of the Mexican constitution that allows Mexican citizens to protect their health.
Three weeks later, the government denied the request. The lawmaker, Fernando Belaunzarán, and Grace’s parents then appealed the decision, which Judge Martín Adolfo Santos Pérez overturned in August 2015.
As of last week, Grace’s family was waiting to see whether the government would appeal the judge’s ruling.
On September 8, 2015, the Mexican Ministry of Health (La Secretaría de Salud) issued a press release in which they announced that the importation of cannabis oil for Grace would be allowed.
It opens, “La Secretaría de Salud facilitará, en términos de la ley, la importación para consumo personal del medicamento que requiere la menor ‘Grace’ para el tratamiento de epilepsia.” (Translation: “The Ministry of Health with facilitate, in accordance with the law, the importation for personal consumption that the minor, ‘Grace’, requires for the treatment of epilepsy”).
The Minister of Health, Mercedes Juan, and the Federal Commissioner of Commission for Protection Against Health Risks (COFEPRIS), Mikel Arriola, go on to make it clear that this is a unique case:
“Durante su conversación, el Comisionado Arriola le ofreció apoyo administrativo, para el cumplimiento de los requisitos para obtener el permiso de importación del medicamento ‘Epidiolex’, fabricado por la empresa GW Pharmaceuticals, que requiere la menor para su tratamiento, tomando en consideración que este es un caso particular, porque ha sido refractario a todos los tratamientos disponibles en México, inclusive a los de carácter quirúrgico.”
Translation: “During their conversation [with the girl’s father], Commissioner Arriola offered administrative support to fulfill the requirements to obtain an importation permit for the medicine ‘Epidiolex’, manufactured by the company GW Pharmaceuticals, which the minor requires for her treatment, taking into considerations that this is a unique case, because it has been resistant to all available treatments in Mexico, including those of surgical nature.”
After his meeting, Grace’s father, Raul Elizade told AFP, “We are happy. It’s our last hope.” Grace has not spoken a word since she was two years old. Her father continued, “We want to reduce the number of convulsions from 400 per day to none. We hope that she could become more independent, that she could walk and speak and eat on her own.”
It is a huge victory for Grace and her family; however the arduous process required to legally obtain cannabis oil likely precludes most families in Mexico from participating, forcing them to resort to illegal importation or production of cannabidiol products.
The Ministry of Health reinforces their opposition to the importation of cannabis is the final line of the release:
“Cabe aclarar que esta autorización sanitaria no significa el aval a la importación de la mariguana en ninguna de sus formas.”
Translation: “It is clear that this health authorization does not constitute an edorsement of the importation of marijuana in any of its forms.”
Just like in the United States, however, institutional change at the federal level is required to make a real difference in the lives of patients to make a real difference.