Last week, a young girl from Schaumburg, Illinois was finally allowed back to her school after a federal judge granted her permission to bring her prescription medicine to class. Ashley Surin, who is only eleven years old was not allowed to go to school because she wears a medical marijuana patch and uses cannabis lotion to manage seizures. According to her parents, the cannabis medications along with a specialized diet have worked marvelously for Ashley.
Why Ashley Uses Cannabis
In 2008, Ashley was diagnosed with childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia. As part of her cancer treatment, she went through several rounds of chemotherapy and multiple spinal injections. While the treatment did send Ashley’s cancer into remission, she began to experience unanticipated side effects. One of the injections into her spine triggered debilitating seizures. Since she was two years old she had treated her seizures with medicines that led to mood swings, memory loss, and low energy. The side effects of the seizure medicines were vast in number and didn’t seem to fully address Ashley’s seizures. In fact, she had one seizure in a grocery store that caused her to fall and hit her head. That fall caused bleeding in the brain which resulted in an emergency hospital visit.
After years of agony from seizures, medicines that didn’t work, and hospital visits, Ashley’s parents thought it was time for a change in treatment. The Surins found a doctor who suggested a new specialized diet combined with a cannabis treatment would be a better option. After getting their medical marijuana license, they began giving Ashley a small cannabis patch that goes on her foot twice a day as well as rubbing cannabis lotion on her wrist. If Ashley does have a seizure, she gets a drop of cannabis oil in her mouth and the symptoms rapidly subside without any side effects.
Why An 11-Year-Old Medical Marijuana Patient Was Banned From Her School
There were multiple reasons why Ashley wasn’t allowed at her school. Illinois law bans cannabis in classrooms, even if it is of a prescribed nature. Similarly, any nurse or teacher could lose their license if they administered Ashley’s medicine to her on school grounds. As a result, Ashley was not allowed in school for multiple weeks while her parents filed a lawsuit against the school district. The case garnered statewide attention and even the Illinois Attorney General agreed that there would be no legal punishment for staff who help Ashley receive her medicine. After hearing arguments in the case, a federal judge issued an emergency order allowing Ashley to go back to school.
While the case is not over, the order was welcomed by both sides. The ruling however only applies to Ashley’s case and not to other Illinois children in a similar situation. The Surins, like many other citizens of Illinois, are hoping that laws will eventually be altered to ensure no other child is barred from attending school. Jim Surin, Ashley’s dad even said, “I hope that we can help the state change the law to not only let our daughter get the medicine she needs, but that other students will be helped as well.”
Lane is based in Southern California and is a content curator for Medical Marijuana 411. He focuses his research into finding informative stories that can help medical marijuana patients better understand their diverse medicine.