Harvesting Hope: Jessica and Emma’s Journey
Karen Berger, PharmD, Medical Writer
Jessica Crozier lives in Scottsdale, Arizona with her husband
Brett, 16-year-old daughter, Emma, and 14-year-old-son, Mason.
One day, just after her second birthday, Emma became very lethargic and listless. Her parents rushed her to the emergency room. Emma’s blood sugar was only 11 mg/dL (regular blood sugar for a 2-year-old can range from 70 to 130 mg/dL, depending on when the child last ate). She had several seizures and mini-strokes.
An ambulance was called to take Emma and her family to Phoenix Children’s Hospital. She was admitted to the PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit), where she stayed for one week.
While in the PICU, Emma was diagnosed with optic nerve hypoplasia, which affects many organs in her body. Emma is legally blind in her right eye and has several hormone deficiencies.
A few months later, Emma started to have seizures more regularly.
A neurologist and an endocrinologist cared for Emma. They tried using various prescription medications.
“The medications were not so successful,” Jessica recalls. “They also affected her mood, personality, and behavior.”
At age nine, Emma was having 4 to 7 seizures per day. Her epileptologist (a neurologist that specializes in epilepsy treatment) started to discuss brain surgery.
“We wanted to look at other options,” Jessica says. Several of her friends had mentioned medical cannabis. Jessica started to research medical cannabis and connected with a local mom who was going through the same situation.
When Jessica started to use cannabis for Emma, there were fewer options, she recalls. Jessica began Emma on the cannabis flower because it is the least processed and she could control the CBD to THC ratio. “We started at a low dose, trying more strains as they became available. I’m a Virgo, so I took a lot of notes!” she says.
“We noticed cannabis had a very positive effect on her seizures almost immediately,” Jessica says. She went two full years without having a seizure. At the 1.5 year mark, they started to very slowly wean Emma off her last prescription over a 4-month period, but she had a seizure 3 months into the wean. “We went 2 years trying to eliminate seizures naturally, but in the end thought a lower dose of pharmaceutical would be the best option.”
Currently, Emma takes about eight capsules per day, made up of two formulations. The first is a high CBD/low THC combination (Sativa-leaning strain) that is fully decarboxylated. The second is a 1:1 Sativa-leaning strain that is half decarboxylated.
In Arizona, medical cannabis patients have to obtain a medical marijuana program card. Her husband also has a caregiver card, which enables him to purchase and carry medical marijuana. The Croziers spend about $300 per month on medical marijuana.
“Insurance doesn’t pay – it’s really expensive,” Jessica says. She believes insurance should pay for medical marijuana. “We use it as a medication to treat seizures. Pharmaceuticals are covered by insurance – there’s no reason why cannabis should not be covered.”
Emma now has about one seizure per month. Jessica attributes this to cannabis, along with a gluten-free diet and some prescription medication.
Jessica participates in social media support groups for parents and caregivers and even started a support group with another mom. The group is called “Harvesting Hope.”
For parents who may be reluctant to try medical marijuana in a child with seizures, Jesica says, “There is nothing to be nervous about – cannabis is very safe. The risk of psychoactive effects is very minimal when dosed conservatively. It affects most people in a positive way.”
Through this experience, Jessica decided to become involved in the cannabis industry and educate other parents. She started out working for a dispensary, traveling all over the country, and doing outreach. Currently, she works at C4 Laboratories, a cannabis testing lab, as a logistics and operations manager.
In their spare time, the Crozier family enjoys exploring new places, traveling in Arizona, and out of the state. “We are a Disney family – we love Disneyland,” Jessica says.
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