Medical marijuana issue hits close to home

Local family moves to Colorado to help their daughter

By Tina SnellStaff Writer

Minnesota is currently in the throes of the medical marijuana issue. Monday, a proposal allowing marijuana to be used for different ailments in the state was approved by the Senate Finance Committee 14-7. Late Tuesday, the Minnesota Senate passed the bill 48-18, with provisions for 55 dispensaries across the state, treatment centers for those with specific medical needs and the issuance of identification cards for those who are qualified to use medical marijuana.

From there, the bill goes to the House, but is expected to be more restrictive with no provisions for those suffering from chronic pain or from post traumatic stress syndrome. Some opponents of the bill have concerns about kids abusing medical cannabis.

Neither the Senate or the House advocate the legalization of smoking medical marijuana, just other approved forms of dispensing.

If the law passes, Minnesota will be the 22nd state to protect medical marijuana users.

One family is watching the process carefully. Jason and Marie Jay recently moved from Fort Ripley to Colorado to have access to medical marijuana for their daughter, Jenna.

Jenna, an 8-year-old twin, has intractable epilepsy, a disorder in which the seizures are not being controlled by medication. Her epilepsy is due to a brain malformation which occurred before she was born.

The Jay family, formerly of Fort Ripley, moved to Colorado to have access to medical marijuana for daughter Jenna who has intractible epilepsy. The drug is given to her through injections of cannabis oils. Pictured are front row: twins Jenna, left, and Jaden Jay. Back row (from left): Jason, Marie and Trenton Jay.

The Jay family, formerly of Fort Ripley, moved to Colorado to have access to medical marijuana for daughter Jenna who has intractible epilepsy. The drug is given to her through injections of cannabis oils. Pictured are front row: twins Jenna, left, and Jaden Jay. Back row (from left): Jason, Marie and Trenton Jay.

“Her clinical diagnosis is subcortical band heterotopia (abnormal brain development) and pachygyria (a condition due to abnormal migration of nerve cells in the developing brain and nervous system),” said Jenna’s mother, Marie. “We first noticed some developmental delays when Jenna was about 3 months old and she wasn’t meeting her expected milestones.”

The Jays’ pediatrician told them that since she was premature, they could expect some delays and to just keep an eye on her.

“At her sixth-month appointment, we knew something was wrong when she was significantly behind her twin,” said Marie. “We were referred to the Gillette Children’s Hospital in St. Paul. A pediatric neurologist ran some tests and learned Jenna had a very large band of gray matter around her brain. We were told it was like a birthmark, so it wouldn’t get better, but it would not increase in thickness, either.”

That’s when the Jays were told Jenna would have seizures, that she may not be able to walk and could possibly have very significant physical disabilities.

“When Jenna was 18 months old, she had her first seizure and we put her on her first pharmaceutical,” said Marie.

Jenna receives injections of cannabis oils to help control her seizures brought on by epilepsy.

Jenna receives injections of cannabis oils to help control her seizures brought on by epilepsy.

As the years progressed, Jenna’s seizures increased in number and intensity. Her care was transferred to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

“They took great care of us, but we didn’t make a lot of progress at all. Jenna failed more than 20 pharmaceuticals, a Vagus Nerve Stimulator surgery (a device used to treat epilepsy patients whose medications are not effective) and a low glycemic diet,” said Marie.

Jenna was receiving more than 14 pills each day. The family watched as the effects of the drugs took over her life which included headaches, stomachaches, dizziness, fatigue, irritability, constant kidney and bladder infections and other possible damage to her organs.

“All this without any control of her seizures were more than we could handle,” said Marie. “When we heard about a CNN special regarding medical cannabis, we were intrigued. It was like the glimmer of hope we had been looking for.”

Jenna was having a variety of seizures: grand mal, partial complex, absence and atonic or drop seizures. She experienced more than 300 per month and many required CPR. She almost lost her life several times.

“One of our fears would be that her life would be taken way too soon,” said Marie.

In October 2013, the family made their first trip to Colorado and met with members of the Realm of Caring Foundation, an organization which helps families who are relocating to Colorado.

Jenna saw two physicians there and both agreed she would be a great candidate for medical cannabis.

In order for a child to receive the drug in Colorado, they must be a resident and have two doctors sign froms stating its use is a medical necessity. Many pages of paperwork need to be completed and sent to the state. If accepted, a red card is issued allowing one to purchase the marijuana.

“We had no idea if it would work or if we would lose everything, but it was worth a try to save our daughter,” said Marie. To Marie and Jason, it seemed the option seemed safer than any medications, surgeries or diets they had already subjected Jenna to.

“Jason and I had many sleepless nights, but knew God had this plan for us. So we put our house up for sale and within two months we were packing up our family to move to Colorado,” said Marie. “We both quit the jobs we truly enjoyed, took our kids out of their schools and we left behind family and friends. It was by far the scariest decision of our lives.”

When the Jays got to Colorado, they learned that Charlotte’s Web, a strain of medical marijuana processed into an extract with a high cannabidiol content and low in the component which gets most people high, was not available as promised and wouldn’t be until October 2015. They were crushed.

But then they found out that THC-A, comparable to Charlotte’s Web, was available.

“Medical cannabis comes in oil form and without the ability to get high,” said Marie.

Other ways medical cannabis is administered is through vaporizers which gently heats up cannabis, releasing fewer of the harmful components which comes from smoking. Another way is by eating which is slow to kick in and slow to wear off, better for those with chronic pain. It can also be made into teas, tinctures or salves.

“Now that Jenna has started medical marijuana, her seizures have been reduced to 50-75 a month,” said Marie. “She is off seven of her pills and is feeling great. She is less lethargic, happier, more coherent and developing a personality that we have never seen before. It is like meeting our daughter for the first time. We know without a doubt that we made the right choice and we are slowly getting our daughter back.”

The Jays plan to stay in Colorado for the time being, but would eventually like to return to Minnesota.

“We are hoping Minnesota will legalize medical cannabis so others who are suffering can have a chance at a happy, healthy life like Jenna is just starting to experience,” said Marie.

The Jays stressed that recreational marijuana is on a whole different spectrum from medical marijuana and the two should not be confused.

  • tmac

    Here is to hoping Minnesota does the right thing and you can come back to Minnesota in the very near future.

  • Immortal Illumined

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

    sad to think MINN just let their own suffer and die, should be a crime

    “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, 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…not 1….the new generations are taking over in the south and they are nothing like their freedom denying parents, let’s ride…

    Deaths by Alcohol and Tobacco: Millions
    Deaths by Prescription Drugs: Quadrupled in last decade
    Deaths by Guns: Millions
    Deaths by the food we are fed: Millions
    Deaths by Marijuana: 0, ever…they are killing my American family while denying freedom

    love and freedom forever

    AMERICA’S WAR ON DRUGS IS A WAR ON AMERICANS! 33

  • Patrick J Bonniwell

    Just so people are clear on what’s actually going on. There are two bills, one that has yet to leave the house and will be presented on Friday for a vote. Then there is the one that has passed the Senate and is waiting to pass a House vote.

    “From there, the bill goes to the House, but is expected to be more
    restrictive with no provisions for those suffering from chronic pain or
    from post traumatic stress syndrome.” ~Tina Snell, 2nd Paragraph

    It is not expected to be more restricted. It is a completely different bill. One that is set to be voted on Friday, It hasn’t left the House.

    Fact Check before publishing, I hate seeing wrong information in our own newspaper because someone didn’t understand what was actually happening or didn’t check to see if what they were actually saying was true.

    Journalism aims to provide a service to the public by the dissemination and analysis of news and other information. If your providing news that is fictional, that’s what we call “lying to your readers.”

  • Patrick J Bonniwell

    I know that. We weren’t talking about the house bill. There were two bills drafted. A House bill and a Senate bill. At the time of this article being written the author was speculating on the fact the House would require some of the items in the Senate bill be reduced. Last time I checked we don’t report on speculation unless it’s clearly stated. This article was very misleading at the time of it’s publication. The only way the information that was provided in this article could of come to light is if the author had inside information that was not available to any other news outlet in the entire country. As there was no word on what the House would do with the Senate bill, nor any indication it would be required to be lessened in scope, unless of course she was talking about the wording of the House bill, which was the House bill not the Senate bill.

    “From there, the bill goes to the House, but is expected to be more
    restrictive with no provisions for those suffering from chronic pain or
    from post traumatic stress syndrome.” ~Tina Snell, 2nd Paragraph

    I’ve watched this story pretty closely and honestly, the updates to this have come sometimes every 2 hours, 8 hours and sometimes days at a time. It’s been a pain to keep up with. I hope I was able to clarify your misunderstanding in regards to what was said.

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