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Mom wants Va. to legalize marijuana for sick daughter

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WHITESTONE, Va. (WTVR) -- Haley Smith may not be the typical face of the marijuana movement. The 13-year-old girl suffers from Dravet syndrome, which means she suffers from severe seizures. In fact, she had over 800 seizures in 2013.

Her mother Lisa Smith, believes sharing her story shows there are more than just recreational marijuana users who want laws changed.

Smith, who believes medical marijuana can help her daughter live a more comfortable life, was recently told by a VCU doctor there are no more viable medical options for Haley.

"Her seizures are going to take her life one day. There is nothing left for her to try," Smith said.

However, Smith emphasized she doesn't want her daughter smoking the marijuana, she simply wants the ability for her to ingest it.

But some in the medical community believe that what Smith is seeking for her daughter does not exist.

"I have never heard of marijuana being a safe treatment for epilepsy," Dr. Peter Coleman, with the Coleman Institute, said.

Coleman cautions lawmakers on decriminalizing any form of marijuana, even medical, over fears some people will abuse it.

Coleman said that for every Haley that might exist, thousands of people would take advantage and that is being seen in states that have already allowed medical pot.

"It has become a joke with anyone walking into a hospital and asking for marijuana for a headache," Coleman added.

Smith admits that it is difficult for lawmakers to distinguish what she is fighting for compared to what recreational pot users want. However, she believes progress is being made.

Click here for more about Haley's story.


  • Israel Goldstien

    Oh, Joe. What an unintelligent tag to your story. “Bring Colorado style politics to Virginia”. Do you watch the news ? Localities nationwide are decriminalizing various levels of possession. Your biased segment even shows the properly dispensed type of THC? that will help her daughter’s medical condition. You then pull a bit of bait & switch to address illegal teen marijuana use-plus show a medical professional who explains the affects of marijuana on humans with no specifics of how it could help this child. This story should have been about the child; not the drug.

  • T Sweeney

    Why go that far, go to ANY Virginia school for marijuana.

    With legalization, you get widespread use of marijuana.
    With prohibition, you STILL get widespread use of marijuana… and billions of dollars into the hands of criminals, gangs, terrorists, corrupt police, corrupt politicians.

    So why is there a debate? Prohibition simply has not worked, no matter HOW many people we put in prison.

  • robby

    oh its coming and the ones fighting the hardest against it are your legal drug dealing docs prescribing pain killers to millions daily and the drug companies who provide their product for pushing.Good luck to this women and her fight,its her child and I say if you think it will help do what you need to do to get it.In fact ask some lawyer ,doctor or professor to hook you up.

    • amill

      Beyond true. I know multiple ppl strung out on pain pills a year or more after a non lige threatening car accident. Definitely the new epidemic.good point of course they wouldnt want it legalized. Selfish money grubbing garbage!

  • amill

    For personal reasons I dont care which way we go but I love when bias ppl give just thst bias opinions. Pot is illegal. Ppl still buy it smoke it and sell it in areas it is just that, illegal. Probably the same areas that ppl go to jail for minor possession charges and walk with community service after robbing somebody. Regardless….guns, same bias ppl seem to think making guns illegal will stop their production sale and use . Get out the history book and get into reality. Alcohol kills many ppl from over use, driving, radical decision making . As someone who has lost people to alcohol im not sure how anyone can justify its sale and the continued legalization of marijuana. Cause and effect can only be proven through experimentation. Besides deactivating ppl which is bad enough however, how do people who indulge in any alcohol which is many of us. ..argue this point when there are tons of patients whether haley or not that have no other options?!? Oh wait alcohol is legal….lets encourage them to focus on a legal vice. Drink kill your liver not your (unproven) brain cells then you can really be sick and then we can really nake money off of you. Why do I live in America. Not so sure anymore, if you aren’t a minority (and im far from racist) why would you want to love here?! Cant read this stuff it ticks me off. Sorry end rant…

  • Brian Kelly B Bizzle

    When a loved one is in pain, wasting away unable to eat, and needs this marvelous herb in order to increase their appetite, reduce the overwhelming pain, and live as as healthy and happily as they can with the time they have left, let’s have the compassion to allow them to have it.

    Stop treating Medical Marijuana Patients like second rate citizens and common criminals by forcing them to the dangerous black market for their medicine.

    Risking incarceration to obtain the medicine you need is no way to be forced to live.

    Support Medical Marijuana Now!

    “[A] federal policy that prohibits physicians from alleviating suffering by prescribing marijuana for seriously ill patients is misguided, heavy-handed, and inhumane.” — Dr. Jerome Kassirer, “Federal Foolishness and Marijuana,” editorial, New England Journal of Medicine, January 30, 1997

    “[The AAFP accepts the use of medical marijuana] under medical supervision and control for specific medical indications.” — American Academy of Family Physicians, 1989, reaffirmed in 2001

    “[We] recommend … allow[ing] [marijuana] prescription where medically appropriate.” — National Association for Public Health Policy, November 15, 1998

    “Therefore be it resolved that the American Nurses Association will: — Support the right of patients to have safe access to therapeutic marijuana/cannabis under appropriate prescriber supervision.” — American Nurses Association, resolution, 2003

    “The National Nurses Society on Addictions urges the federal government to remove marijuana from the Schedule I category immediately, and make it available for physicians to prescribe. NNSA urges the American Nurses’ Association and other health care professional organizations to support patient access to this medicine.” — National Nurses Society on Addictions, May 1, 1995

    “[M]arijuana has an extremely wide acute margin of safety for use under medical supervision and cannot cause lethal reactions … [G]reater harm is caused by the legal consequences of its prohibition than possible risks of medicinal use.” — American Public Health Association, Resolution #9513, “Access to Therapeutic Marijuana/Cannabis,” 1995

    “When appropriately prescribed and monitored, marijuana/cannabis can provide immeasurable benefits for the health and well-being of our patients … We support state and federal legislation not only to remove criminal penalties associated with medical marijuana, but further to exclude marijuana/cannabis from classification as a Schedule I drug.” — American Academy of HIV Medicine, letter to New York Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, November 11, 2003

    “[The LFA] urges Congress and the President to enact legislation to reschedule marijuana to allow doctors to prescribe smokable marijuana to patients in need … [and] urges the US Public Health Service to allow limited access to medicinal marijuana by promptly reopening the Investigational New Drug compassionate access program to new applicants.” — Lymphoma Foundation of America, January 20, 1997

  • Romaine Cheney

    It’s hard to know how to feel about this one. I agree that there are some folks that could really benefit from this one. But at the same time, like Coleman indicated, there are that many more who abuse it.

  • Gerry

    IF VA becomes 420 firendly, will this affect the use of meth, oxy, coke/crack, heroin, exctasy and other drugs? If it lessens the use of hard drugs, I’m all for it. Make sure you tax the heck out of it though.

  • caliboss

    the greatest plant in the universe is almost free, LET FREEDOM RING!!!13

    “any doctor against marijuana is a doctor of death” – cali secret 420

    from 0 states to half the country, from low 20% approval to almost 70%, cali runs this planet by 2 decades, time to tie marijuana to the 2014, and 2016 elections, out with the old, in with the new

    20 years behind us southern states, sad and scary….nobody denies freedoms like the south, nobody…the top ten incarcerators on the planet are southern states…even if marijuana reforms did pass the republiCANTS in charge would deny you all your freedoms, centuries of practice…no matter though, we never planned on getting your backwards brethren from day one, half the country already but not one southern state, lol…

    Average spent per inmate a year = $31,286 (profit and police over people)
    Average spent per student a year = $10,605 (dumber and more in debt, each one of us is liable for around $40,000 of rising American debt)

    love and freedom forever


  • J McMahan

    I find it interesting that “Dr. Coleman” from the “Coleman Institute” is being used as an expert as he owns/ runs a drug detox program. He is a doctor but NOT a neurologist. He is a recovering addict according to his website. Of course he is going to be against it as he only sees it from a recreational standpoint, not a medical standpoint. It would NOT be in his best interest financially or for his business for medical marijuana to be legalized. Too bad a neurologist who would be impartial was not quoted or asked for their opinion. Yes, I am also another mother with a Dravet child who is very willing to try Medical Marijuana in order to stop her life threatening seizures.

  • Demetrius jarrett

    This doctor has no business commentating on this anyway saying marijuana effects blah blah blah so does the medicine you prescribe im sure if I took a whole bottle of asprin it would affect and probably kill me he’s just on this video for two reasons: #1 two disscount the capabilities of marijuana and #2 advertising his name and business BOTTOM LINE ITS ALL ABOUT MONEY the greedy government knows they can’t fully PROFIT of marijuana because its not like beer or cigarettes they knowANYBODY CAN GROW THERE OWN marijuana with one seed unlike beer and cigarettes I mean there nobody out there making there own budlight and newport think about it ,

  • Kathryn Leighton

    This is kind of dumb. Just because a mother, with no medical degree, “feels” that marijuana will help her daughter means nothing. There is no legitimate medical proof that marijuana is the next medicine for ANYTHING.

    Nice try kids.

    • J McMahan

      Am sorry you feel this way. She does not just “feel this way.” What you don’t know is there IS proof that MMJ helps OUR kids. AND our kids are in danger of dying on a daily basis. There are FDA studies being conducted now on MMJ. How many times have you been told “your child may not make it through this seizure” or had to give CPR to your child. We have had to learn much more about the medical field than we ever wanted to learn. So sad when people make judgements about a Dravet parent’s knowledge and life. That is kind of dumb too….

  • Katie

    Unfortunately to those opposed to this form of medical treatment if u have never had a seizure of any kind and many kinds exist you should not insult anyone . I am 33 and have suffered with a seizure disorder from 18 mons old .im sure this mother has done so much research to help her baby girl u could not even kno . My parents went thro it too if I could get this for myself I would it has happen to be the most effective what I call medication as I call it when put into a tincture which there r recipes for .seizures depending on what kinds can kill u after many strong strokes .I am not a kid .cannabis is probably this mother’s last resort . She is probably scared out of her mind even for suggesting this . Jus be nice or find something else to do.

  • Dianna

    I pray that one day Haley will recieve this to help make her life better than what she has gone through in her13 years of life. I have Multiple Sclerosis and take a lot of pain drugs and would give anything to have medical marijuana legialized here in Virginia. And yes research has been done and proven that it works. The problem is that Virginia does not want to lose the money that they and Doctors get from the pharm. companies. I have smoked Marijuana and it took the pain away 2 puffs lasted all day compared to Morphine etc. that has to be taken twice a day. The marijuana will not be used as to get a high but to help to cope with the pain and lessen fatigue on the body. No one will under stand unless you are going through what Haley and I and all of the others here are going through. Praying that one day soon we won’t have to deal with this problem. But what I do want to know is Marijuana is legal in Va if you have stage 4 cancer, just why is that?

  • Josh @ vape2you

    It’s interesting that a doctor would say that there is no proof that marijuana helps in cases of epilepsy. There are several cases where cannabis has been proven incredibly effective.

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