Healing can be had in today's health system -- modern drugs and the latest procedures can do wondrous things -- but there are barriers to access. Usually, they are financial, in the form of high co-pays or treatments uncovered by insurance.
Of late, more and more parents are turning to one particular cure to fix epileptic fits in their children. And this cure -- marijuana rich in non-psychoactive cannabinoid CBD -- is not only expensive. In many places, it's illegal.
None of the above applies in Oakland. In Oakland, CBD-rich, marijuana-derived medicines are available free of charge at a Jack London Square marijuana dispensary. Starting today, kids suffering epilepsy can (with their parents) get free medicine from Magnolia Wellness.
Free weed is not a new concept. In the medical cannabis world, sick, disabled or elderly folks can at times receive "compassion" from the local pot store: that is to say, free weed, be it a couple edibles, a little bit of hash, or some shake from the bottom of the bud jar.
A big reason behind this -- aside from the "compassion" in the "Compassion Use Act" of 1996, the medical marijuana law that got all of this started -- is that federal and state health insurance for the very poor and very sick does not pay for medical cannabis (though they do give you all the opiates you can eat).
David Spradlin has run dispensaries in Sacramento and in Oakland for years now, and has given away quite a bit of free weed: to HIV and AIDS sufferers, Rick Simpson oil to cancer patients.
This is a little different. It's children, for starters, and CBD-rich medicines are a treatment that have reduced seizures in kids from the hundreds to just a few per day. (So efficacious is this that a major pharmaceutical company's own CBD-rich medicines are at this moment being tested on children at UCSF).
"It seems like that there's huge value here," Spradlin told SF Weekly. "We want to get the word out."
A formula designed specifically for epilepsy, made by Alta California, is available for anyone who comes in with a note from a doctor that says a patient is being treated for epilepsy. (In this case, a parent can come in as the child's caregiver).
They then get entered into the dispensary's record of patients who can receive free medicine -- and that's it. They get as much as they need.
There's no limit and no cap on how many kids can get the stuff, Spradlin added.
Why do this? What's it in for them? Spradlin says it's the right thing to do, simple as that. And it's hard to find a flaw in that reasoning.
So here's to the kids.