A decision by the Oceanside city attorney to pursue a medical marijuana dispensary has left hundreds of families with nowhere to turn for the medicine their children need.
Connor Dalby, four, suffers from severe epilepsy. At its worst, he experiences countless life-threatening seizures. They started when he was three months old.
“Connor had lost eyesight,” said his mother, Kelley Dalby. “His brain wasn’t registering anything. He lay on the ground and stared into space.”
The family soon learned that Connor had a condition known as West Syndrome. It’s considered the worst from of childhood epilepsy, and its highly resistant to medication treatment.
But the Dalbys found something that did work, something that has worked for hundreds of children like Connor: medical marijuana. They turned to a special strain known as Charlotte’s Web.
The oil extracted from Charlotte’s Web is high in CBD, a chemical thought to treat seizures, and low in THC, which gets pot users high. Though there’s little empirical proof to establish its effectiveness, anecdotal evidence from across the country suggests it can literally save children lost to seizures.
Kelley got Connor’s medicine from the Realm of Caring California, a non-profit dispensary in the San Fernando Valley. She gave him the extract three times a day.
But now, like hundreds of other families, the Dalbys have no access to Charlotte’s Web and no idea where to find it. That’s because Realm of Caring’s director, Ray Mirzbegian, shut it down after the city attorney threated to file criminal charges against him.
“There’s 800 children on my waiting list, and these children need their help,” Mirzbegian said. “They need the city’s help.”
Oceanside currently has a ban on dispensaries within city limits. But the city planning commission has asked the city council to consider allowing them.
Mirzbegian said he hopes to open a new shop in the city that only sells Charlotte’s Web. He said he treats his 10-year-old daughter’s epilepsy with the extract.
“The hardest part of this is when you get a call from a parent who says, ‘Ray, take my child off the list. They didn’t make it,’” he said. “When you say ‘didn’t make it?’ They passed away.”
Parents like the Dalbys have formed groups to lobby state lawmakers across the country for legislation allowing Charlotte’s Web. Several states, especially in the Deep South, have passed laws allowing this strain but barring other forms of medical marijuana.