RINEYVILLE, Ky. — At just four years old, Julie Cantwell’s son Preston was diagnosed with generalized epilepsy. At his worst, he was having around 200 seizures per day. But a few years ago, the family looked into a new treatment — medical marijuana.
“As of this month, he’s been three years seizure-free, using medical marijuana from out of state,” Julie Cantwell said.
Without having constant medical issues, Preston was able to get his driver’s license just last week at age 22. “It’s been incredible, it’s like night and day really,” Preston Cantwell said. “That’s something I wouldn’t of been able to do otherwise. It really changed my life for the better.”
Her son’s diagnosis of epilepsy and eventual relief found through marijuana led Cantwell to create the nonprofit Moms for Medical Cannabis. The organization shares the stories of families who’ve been helped by the drug with lawmakers.
Cantwell spent part of the summer traveling the state, taking part in the Team Kentucky Medical Cannabis Advisory Committee town halls to hear people’s views on the state possibly legalizing marijuana. “We had zero opposition to come out and speak. Nobody came out and spoke in opposition of it,” Julie said.
The Governor’s Office released a report late last month on their findings. The state received 3,539 comments on its website dedicated to the medicinal cannabis committee. Of which, 98.64% expressed support of legalizing cannabis for medical use in the state.
“Polling suggests 90% of Kentucky adults support legalizing medical cannabis. Our team traveled the state to talk directly to Kentuckians, and they found our people do indeed overwhelmingly support it,” Gov. Beshear said in the release. “I appreciate the work of those who participated, and I am taking this information into consideration as I analyze what steps I can take to legalize medical cannabis for those suffering from chronic, debilitating medical conditions.”
So now Preston says it is time for action on the matter, whether from the legislature or the governor. Legalization would also benefit Julie’s mother, who earlier this year was diagnosed with grade four glioblastoma brain cancer. “I’d like the legal opportunity to treat my cancer with cannabis,” Lisa Trogden said.
Trogden adds she’s found many people online who currently use cannabis to treat their cancer in states where it’s legal. She hopes one day this will happen in Kentucky. “Even my oncologist doesn’t mind if I try something because my care is palliative, end of life,” Trogden said.
For people with a chronic illness, PTSD, or who may be addicted to opioids, medical cannabis has been their solution to living a normal life. A solution that still is not legal in the Commonwealth.
A bill that would have legalized medical marijuana passed in the Kentucky House during the last legislative session but ultimately died in the Senate. Five of Kentucky’s neighboring states allow some level of legal marijuana use.