Tennessee medical marijuana legislation gives families hope

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Kelsey McCloud lies in her mother's lap, finding comfort in each stroke of her short brown hair.

The 15-year-old lives with cerebral palsy and epilepsy, which causes seizures that can happen up to 10 times a day. She takes several medications each day to help with her disabilities, but those have side effects.

Her mother, Leigh Ann Duncan, believes that medical marijuana could help her condition. She believes it could give her daughter back a quality of life, without side effects. Now that a bill is being considered that would allow medical marijuana in the state of Tennessee she is holding out hope that it will become a law.

Related: East Tennessee lawmaker to introduce medical marijuana bill

"She wants to be able to play like other kids, have sleepovers, be like a normal 15-year-old," said Leigh Ann Duncan. "Not only will it help with her seizures, but help with calming her moods."

Leslie Goodwin, a Michigan native who now lives in Knoxville, said medical marijuana saved his life. He was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer.

"Under the pills, pharmaceutical type stuff, I pretty much never wanted to leave my home. I was either throwing up on myself, going to the bathroom on myself, kind of uncontrollable, lost my hair, just no quality of life once so ever," said Goodwin. "I was about to give up."

While using medical marijuana in Michigan, he said he went from stage four to being clear of cancer in three months. However, while families push for medical marijuana, the Knoxville Metropolitan Drug Coalition said there are too many risks involved with marijuana and not enough proof for them to get behind a bill to legalize the plant.

"The FDA is the know all in any type of medical studies that are done, so when the FDA decides to do studies and further research to show that marijuana has medicinal value, then that's when we would sit back down and look to see if our views would change," said Deborah Huddleston with the Knoxville Metropolitan Drug Coalition.

Elise Denneny, an otolaryngologist with Greater Knoxville Ear, Nose and Throat has spent a lot of time studying medical marijuana. She said all of the scientific data to date shows that there may be some benefit of marijuana for treating chronic pain.

"It does help with nausea, vomiting and with appetite, but the other entities such as glaucoma, epilepsy, the data is insufficient right now," said Denneny.


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