Illinois dad manages his epilepsy with medical marijuana

One of the coolest and most surprising things that I have encountered as a cannabis activist is the fact that there is so much diversity within the medical cannabis community; people that I would probably never have met, otherwise. What I mean by that is that I have met people of all ages including veterans, conservative Republicans from all parts of the state, liberal Democrats, Millenials, old hippies, grannies who had never tried cannabis in their lives, and dozens of moms of all shapes and sizes who are saving their own lives and/or those of their children with cannabis.

As many of you know, I am a bleeding heart liberal, bordering on socialism, so I don't usually hang out with conservative Republicans. I really try to avoid getting into any political conversations with my fellow activists, so I keep it all about cannabis.

Since cannabis is still on the Controlled Substance Act list as a Schedule I drug....I know!!!! crazy is that? I have heard rumblings of late of the DEA finally rescheduling it to a higher number which is good. The higher the number, the less dangerous it is considered as a drug. When that happens...hopefully within my lifetime...that will allow for cannabis research studies on human beings. The naysayers consistently insist that we don't have enough research on cannabis use on humans to warrant assessing it as medicinal. This is pure bullshit. Ask those who have been able to completely wean themselves off of the horrendous prescription medications onto cannabis. I know countless people who will tell you that "cannabis gave them their lives back."

David Kurfman has been a correctional officer

David Kurfman has been a correctional officer

So, without further ado, I would like to introduce you to David Kurfman. We have connected entirely due to my cannabis activism and he is one of the thousands of success stories. David lives in southern Illinois and describes himself as a conservative Republican. I will let David tell you his story.

In January of 2015, when I heard the new Illinois Medical Cannabis Program had approved epilepsy as a qualifying condition, I decided I'd look into the program. I'd seen the Weed series on CNN with Dr Sanja Gupta and the time he spent with the Figgi family in Colorado. As many people may have now heard, the Figgis had twin little girls. To make a long story short, one of the twins was diagnosed with Dravet Syndrome, a very serious form of epilepsy that effects young children. Little Charlotte had hundreds of seizures each week from the age of 1 to age 5. Charlotte kept getting worse and no medicine was helping. Eventually they found a miracle with The Stanley Brothers and a particular strain of cannabis that was less than 1% THC but up to 20% CBD. CBD is a cannabinoid found in cannabis along with THC. But unlike THC, it doesn't get a person high. The Figgis had heard that high CBD strains may help control epileptic seizures. Their prayers were answered and the very first time they administered the cannabis, Charlotte didn't have a seizure for a week. Prior to that, Charlotte was seizing every hour or two. The strain of cannabis, called Charlotte's Web, was named after Charlotte. I saw that show and I admit I cried. One, for the family and the little girl going through all the tough times with epilepsy and two, because it's possible I didn't have to take 2000mg of my Depakote, if it worked for me.

Now, getting back to myself; in January of 2015 I started my search for a doctor. I found Dr. Bobo Schneider in Marion, Illinois. It took 4 1/2 hours for me to drive there from west central Illinois, where I lived in Rushville at the time. I did this from March to June of 2015 until I finally received my approval letter after going through the stringent, expensive and I dare say, intrusive application process. In November of 2015, dispensaries finally opened and I experienced medical cannabis for the first time in my life. It took a little getting used to. I was always trying new strains to see what I liked and what worked. I decided, along with consultation from Dr. Schneider, to start trying to wean myself off of Depakote in January 2016. After nearly daily cannabis usage, I weaned down 500mg each month until I got down to 1000mg daily. Then I decreased 250mg each month until present day, April, 2016. I've had a few small seizures but no full blown seizures like a grand mal; just small tremors on occasion. I noticed that every time I decreased the Depakote, I would experience these small seizures.

Currently the best flower I've used for my condition is Pre-98 Bubba Kush. The THC is usually around 8% and the CBD is usually around 14%. I've decide not to go down completely off my meds until Charlotte's Web or another much higher CBD strain comes out. I can't wait and I'm so thrilled to be getting off all my medicine. Over the years, I've experienced side effects from medicine such as weight gain, short term memory loss, being tired and high liver enzyme counts. At times when I didn't have insurance, it was more expensive than cannabis! I'd pay nearly $500 per month at times for my Depakote. I've tried other anti epileptic drugs over the years such as Topamax and Kepra. Most are even more expensive, they didn't work for me and I had terrible side effects along with daily seizures. I've suffered with epilepsy since I was in the 6th grade and I'm now 39. So, roughly I've taken 4 big horse pills of Depakote daily for around 26 years until now! It's working and I'm not afraid to say it.

13052506_10209025887864930_1417981403_oI believe in the legalization of cannabis, not only for its many medicinal benefits, but also for recreational purposes. I grew up not talking or having anything to do with people who used pot. I don't think kids should take it at all unless it's a CBD with super low amounts of THC and only for medicinal purposes. Patients and non patients should be able to grow their own and the plant should be removed from the federal Schedule I status. I say all this and I'm a conservative republican! LOL! Although after this election, I may just consider myself an independent! I hope more conservatives like me will take a more vocal stand on cannabis. I really want people to know cannabis isn't for everyone, just like any medicine, but for many people it's a Godsend and a new life!

For me, it means getting off a drug I've taken very high amounts of for over 26 years! I believe my Depakote caused many other issues later in life such as depression, anxiety, maybe headaches. I can tell you one thing; I also have completely cut out my Xanax and nearly off my Effexor. Although those conditions aren't approved, anxiety and depression, I believe they should be, because cannabis has helped me in those areas as well. By this summer, I plan and hope to be 100% free of prescription medication!

So far it's working and I've learned so much from researching medical cannabis over this last year. I've became an advocate for the IL MCCP and become very knowledgeable and I think very responsible with this medicine. Now if they put it on the ballot for recreational purposes and home grow, this conservative would indeed vote for that program. I wish everyone well on their journey in the medical cannabis world!

Has David's story changed your mind at all about trying medical cannabis? If so, I would love to hear your comments.

I've written a series of posts about medical marijuana. If you want to read more you can click on the "Medical Marijuana" tag at the top of my page.

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