Medical Marijuana: Hope for a Mother

Medical Marijuana has given this mother hope for her autistic daughter.

A “bad day” two years ago might have seen then 5-year-old Anna Myers experiencing up to 100 seizures a day but medical marijuana has given hope to this family.

“You’re so desperate for anything that will help alleviate some of their suffering that if it’s in the cards, you will let a surgeon hack into your child’s brain and remove parts of it, even though it isn’t certain, because you’re desperate and nothing helps,” said Lolly Bentch, Anna’s mother.

Bentch, of Swatara Township, is one of the co-founders of Campaign for Compassion, a Pennsylvania-based community resource that focuses on educating the public and the General Assembly on the ins and outs of cannabis treatment methods.

That group was formed by Bentch and other like-minded parents who began interacting on a Facebook group. Bentch said the group has expanded to include hundreds of advocates and parents, as well as those “at the end of their road with pharmaceutical options.”

“We started lobbying together,” Bentch said.

Anna was diagnosed with Mesial Temporal Sclerosis, a form of autism that causes cognitive delays, intellectual deficits, sleep disorders, anxiety, and intractable epilepsy.

Bentch said she has tried unsuccessfully to combat her daughter’s illness with modern medicine and experimental diets. Anna has been seen by doctors at Hershey Medical Center, Johns Hopkins, and the University of Pittsburgh, and none of those specialists proved helpful to the discouraged mother’s plight.

“Right after that we really started looking into medical cannabis,” Bentch said.

The medical marijuana acts as anticonvulsant, limiting Anna’s seizures.

Gov. Tom Wolf on April 17 signed Senate Bill 3 into law, making Pennsylvania the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana. For parents like Bentch, as well as the many others suffering from one of the approved medical conditions under the bill, the bill is a step toward improved quality of life.

“We were desperately hoping it wouldn’t be ping-ponged back and forth,” Bentch said of the bill before receiving word it had been passed. “We were still a nervous wreck, but as soon as we saw the house put it on their calendar we knew we were good. They passed it once, we knew they could do it again, we got this.

“I cannot possibly thank them enough for doing that.”

One would assume that a mother who advocated for medical marijuana to treat her daughter would feel a rollercoaster of emotions, but Bentch said she felt no immediate rush of adrenaline, just one thing: relief.

“It was just like peace and calm and I just knew that we were going to be OK,” she explained.

“I’m looking forward to the bill finally being enacted and patients finally being protected under this law so I can finally tell a miraculous recovery story about my child,” Bentch added.

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