Chemistry teacher shares personal struggle to legalize CBD oil


By Erin Rountree, Sparkman HS, Sparkman, Ala.

Imagine a child who suffers from frequent and severe seizures multiple times each day. Imagine that you are forced to watch the child’s abilities decrease as the seizures progress. Now, imagine that there was a drug that could possibly aid in alleviating the seizures, but the drug was only legal in a handful of states. For chemistry teacher Melanie Dalton’s granddaughter, this scenario is a reality.

“My granddaughter, Charlotte Dalton, is 20 months old and has Dravet Syndrome. Dravet Syndrome is a collection of symptoms, but in short, Charlotte is prone to frequent epileptic seizures (up to four times a day), some of which are so severe they require hospitalization because the medicine we have cannot break the seizure,” Dalton said.

Charlotte’s seizures are caused by a genetic mutation. The longer she experiences the seizures, and the more she has to take medication for them, the less Charlotte can grow and progress mentally.

Cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD oil, is derived from a special form of the marijuana plant that is low in THC, the psychoactive drug that produces a “high.” According to Dalton, CBD oil has an 85 percent success rate in stopping or limiting seizures in children, but it is currently only legal in Colorado, Washington and California.

Families such as the Daltons and others who have children who could benefit from a medical study on CBD oil have worked with state representatives to create a bill that would allow the University of Alabama in Birmingham to begin research on the drug. Dustin Chandler, the father of Carly Chandler, is one of the many parents who have spoken out in support of the bill, which has now come to be known as Carly’s Law.

We have many supportive ministers, doctors and law enforcement personnel helping, and we are very grateful to everyone who took time to talk to us and listen to us.”

— Melanie Dalton

“Together with other families, we have called and written our representatives, asked friends and supporters to sign petitions and attend rallies, and contacted media to help win support for our children. We have many supportive ministers, doctors and law enforcement personnel helping, and we are very grateful to everyone who took time to talk to us and listen to us,” Dalton said.

Carly’s Law has passed both the House and Senate unanimously, and is awaiting Gov. Robert Bentley’s signature. It has been reported that he does plan to sign the bill, which will allow UAB to allocate $1 million towards the research project. [Update: Gov. Bentley signed the bill April 1.]

Associated Press reports that this will give legal protection to patients if they are given a prescription for the oil through UAB. This is good news for Dalton’s family, who had prepared to move to Colorado to seek treatment before Carly’s Law became reality in Alabama.

“It did seem grossly unfair that there was another treatment [marijuana] that seems miraculous; the catch is [that] if it works for Charlotte, they can never return to Alabama because Charlotte would be a felon,” Dalton said.

Although the study is primarily supported by parents of children suffering from seizures, the oil may also alleviate symptoms of other conditions.

“There are some indications that CBD oil may also provide relief from other neurological conditions such as Tourette’s Syndrome and schizophrenia. I will continue to hope and pray that this bill passes and that the little (and adult) citizens of this state will benefit from this medicine,” Dalton said.

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