MEXICO CITY – The father of a girl with severe epilepsy whose case paved the way for the legalization of medical marijuana in Mexico will appear before the World Health Organization on Monday to defend the use of a cannabis-derived compound as a treatment for seizures.
Raul Elizalde – president of HempMeds Mexico, the local distribution branch of San Diego, California-based Medical Marijuana Inc., and staunch defender of access to cannabidiol hemp oil, or CBD hemp oil – will participate in a Nov. 6 meeting of a WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence in Geneva.
During the meeting, the committee will review a number of psychoactive substances with potential for dependence, abuse and harm to health and make recommendations to the United Nations secretary-general.
Elizalde says cannabidiol is sold legally around the world because – unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive constituent of cannabis – it is not considered psychoactive. But he added that he became alarmed when he saw that CBD was on the list for review by the expert committee.
“The only problem with cannabidiol is that it comes from cannabis, and that makes it taboo,” he said.
A Mexican judge authorized imports of cannabidiol two years ago, and Elizalde’s daughter – Grace Elizalde, who was diagnosed with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy – was the first beneficiary of his ruling.
Earlier this year, Mexico’s Congress passed a bill that legalizes “pharmacological derivatives of cannabis,” and President Enrique Peña Nieto subsequently signed it into law.
Grace formerly suffered 400 epileptic seizures per day, but that number has dropped by 90 percent due to her use of pure cannabidiol imported from the United States, Elizalde said, adding that he was pleased that the cannabis oil has remained effective over time and allowed his daughter to make further strides in her treatment.
Before taking cannabidiol, Grace, now 10, had tried a score of anticonvulsants and even underwent surgery without any benefit, according to Elizalde, who said his daughter was now learning to stand up by herself.
The constant seizures caused brain scarring and a speech learning handicap.
But Grace “now has found a way of communicating in a simpler way by using signs or pounding on the table,” Elizalde said.