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Thursday’s news that an FDA committee has recommended approval of CBD as a treatment for epilepsy (the recommendation goes before the full FDA in June) was a welcome development for those suffering from the disease. However, this story featured on NBC’s Today shows that many have been suffering for years – and forced to break the law in order to treat the affliction.

Jaelah Jerger is a two-year-old who suffers from epilepsy. She has up to 30 seizures a day. Her parents, Lelah and Jade Jerger have tried traditional medication to help her, but it had no real effect. “Every time she has a seizure,” Jade says, “to me, it’s like watching part of her life slip away.”

Unable to stand idly by, the Jergers turned to the internet – where they learned about CBD or cannabidiol. CBD is a marijuana extract that has been used to treat anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, cancer…and epilepsy. It does not get the user high.

To the Jerger’s amazement, Jaelah’s seizures had largely vanished just seven days after she started taking the CBD.

Delighted, they shared the news with their medical team – and then Indiana’s Child Protective Services showed up at their door.

While states across the country are relaxing laws about recreational and medical marijuana, Indiana didn’t allow the use of CBD for children with epilepsy. The Jergers were breaking the law.

Fortunately, the story has a happy ending. Indiana dropped the case against the Jergers, and approved the use of CBD for Jaelah’s form of epilepsy.

CBD and the Law

Currently, CBD languishes in a sort of legal limbo. While the Drug Enforcement Agency still considers the substance illegal, they’ve also stated that they’re not interested in throwing users in jail. The agency believes our current opioid epidemic is a far greater concern and should be law enforcement’s primary focus.

Meanwhile, the debate could be completely moot in the months ahead. Senator Mitch McConnell introduced the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, which would essentially legalize the entire plant:

“The term ‘hemp’ means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”

Until this happens, you can still buy CBD — but do your research. Many companies use synthetic CBD crystal isolates in their product, which has been shown to have little therapeutic effect. Instead, look for products using a “full spectrum” of CBD oil. These gel caps and oils use all the cannabinoids in the plant, not just one specific molecule, which is much more effective.