Thanks to many, including attorney and Denver City Council candidate Warren Edson, Chaz Moore, aka Bill Smith, can now leave school to take his medical marijuana per his doctors recommendation, and return to school to continue receiving his high school education.
By Teresa Dupuis | Published in The Green Leaf
He was known as “Bill Smith” when this story broke. Chaz Moore is stepping forward to show everyone he’s a normal kid, who is just trying to live a normal life.
“One time we went to Memorial Hospital, they told us he was just there to get high, blah blah blah,” Shan Moore, Chaz’s father said. “They wouldn’t treat him.”
When the episodes started in late December 2009, they began with Chaz breaking out in hives, which were only temporarily treated by Benadryl. As his symptoms progressed, he began having what he calls “hiccups,” the muscle spasms in his throat and chest.
His father said he feared it was anaphylactic shock and took him to the hospital each time, where he was treated with a lidocaine inhaler, Ativan (lorazepam), and Valium (diazepam), which all stopped being effective after one or two uses. He was also given Dilaudid (hydromorphome), which his father said gets him “too high.”
At one point he was taking 17 different medications twice a day (34 pills a day), his father said.
He was also averaging three emergency room visits a week, with a high of nine visits one week.
No one knew what it was, or how to treat it, and there aren’t enough people with it to really have much data about it, his dad said.
“Dad thought it was just I was trying to get out of school, just trying to get home,” Chaz said. “So he put a rule on me, that every time I came home from school, I was grounded for the rest of the day, I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t go outside.”
Chaz said that the because the doctors kept saying it was just an attempt to get high his parents took him to Turning Point Drug Rehabilitation Center, and had Chaz take a surprise urinalysis that ended up coming back clear.
“He’s not a drug addict,” Shan said. ”We got that so we could show the school, and doctors at the ER.”
He said they were at a children’s hospital in Denver, where Chaz was administered several tests: CT scan, MRI, spinal tap, EKG, EEG and more.
“Every time they were coming back with test going ‘it’s clear. There’s nothing. We can’t find anything wrong with him,’ I’m going, ‘Yay,’” he says with a half smile and a sigh.
“And you’re going, ‘Yay. Can we have an answer, please,’” Janice Moore, Chaz’s mother said.
His parents said that while they were still looking for reasons for Chaz to lie about his symptoms. “What is going on in school that is making him this upset that it’s causing this to happen,” his mom asked. “What’s going on in school,” his dad said he wanted to know. “Is somebody picking on you? (Is it) Girls?”
Finally, one attack lead to them getting a diagnosis of Bilateral Diaphragmatic and Axial myoclonus. Once Chaz was diagnosed, he underwent more treatments, but was advised to take marijuana. Four months after it was first recommended by a doctor, his parents decided that it was the best course of action.
“Choosing to put him on medical marijuana was really a hard one for us,” Janice said. “We’d watched him go through the Valium, the morphine, the Xanax, Ativan, Dilaudid, and there were six or seven other things that they tried, too, just to get these spasms to stop, these seizures to stop, and he was so high, and he was so messed up, and my husband and I, being recovering addicts, it’s scary when they’re putting him on all this.”
“And then you’ve got doctors saying ‘let’s put him on medical marijuana.’ … All of it was a scary thought for us, but with the medical marijuana, there’s … less side effects … not only that, the addictive portion wasn’t there, like there was for the rest of the prescription medications he was on, and us being addicts, it was not ok. Every little bit of this has been scary, but when you look at the paperwork, and all the facts and the findings, and the difference between medications, there’s really no other option but to do the medical marijuana. So that’s why we decided to go ahead and try it.” – Shan, Chaz’s father
Chaz said that while on the other medications he felt “out of it,” or not really functional. “I could, like, feel it, and I could still feel the pain, like, a lot, but I mean I couldn’t really feel the flutter was happening. I could just feel the pain, and I could feel my muscles, it was, like, tight.”
His father said the doctors once compared it to running a marathon every half an hour.
Before he got his license, Chaz said he was worrying about over-medicating, dying, going to the hospital and not being able to walk out.
On medicinal marijuana he said he can still feel it, but instead of having a pain scale of nine or 10, his pain scale is down to like 3-5, at the most.
“He doesn’t freak out as much either. He’s a lot calmer about it,” Shan said. “He knows he’s not going to end up in the hospital, or overdosed.”
“He knows he’s going to take care of it,” Janice said.
Chaz said he does not get much advanced notice of when he’s going to have a spasm, saying sometimes it’s instantaneous, or sometimes he can start to feel it up to 5 minutes before it’s going to happen.
His mother however says that there are times when she’ll be watching him and Chaz will turn very pale and she thinks to herself “oh, man, later.”
Chaz has to walk a mile during a seizure to go home to take his medication. Tinctures, cannabis capsules, and Benz100’s candies are his typical forms of ingestion. When he has a candy, or lozenge, he sucks on it until he starts to calm down, and then spits it out before it gets to be too much.
Shan said he has a whole bag of them he wanted to take to the legislature when they were trying to ban the edible and say: “these are the days he was able to go to school.”
He said the worst side effect they have noticed happened when Chaz had a severe attack. He had 30 mg platinum cap, a candy (15 mg), and then another 30 mg cap. He went to bed, woke up a few house later “a little goofy, a lot hungry, and that was about it,” his father recalls. “If he has a severe attack, we just knock him out. He’ll get over it. We don’t have to worry about killing him, or taking him to the hospital, kidneys shutting down, his liver shutting down,” Shan said.
Chaz said he can basically do whatever when I get out of school, when he’s not catching up on his academics from the year he missed of school.
The rest of the time, he can go out and go places, but he said he has to take a candy or a pill with him I case he has an attack while he’s out.
His dad said he has had seizures during tutoring, pops one in, and continues working through the seizure. In the last week of March, Chaz had has an attack in the morning, took medicine, went to school, and had two subsequent attacks, but refused to come home to take his medication because he wanted to stay in class and not fall behind again.
Chaz said that before he got cannabis, he wanted to be a diesel mechanic when he grew up. Now that he has begun using medicinal marijuana, he has decided he wants to become a counselor for medical marijuana patents.
“I wouldn’t want to go talk to someone who hasn’t been through the same stuff,” he said. “I’m not going to put on a suit and tie, because I wouldn’t want to open up to one of them people.”
“I had a couple of my stoner friends that I used to chill with for a while, they came up to me and they were, like high fiving me and everything because I got my license,” Chaz said. “They were like ‘dude, I’m going to try and get my license now,’ I was like, ‘ya know, dude, that’s kind of defeating my purpose here,’ and he was like, ‘what do you mean?’ and I was like,’ I’m trying to get kids actually, like, need their licenses in school, and you’re going to abuse the system and that’s why everybody is freaking out on medical marijuana, ya know,’ and I was like ‘ya know, if you want to smoke pot, just buy it off the street.’”
He said that they told him that they weren’t going to get their license, and he has not been approached by students to try acquire some marijuana for recreational purposes.
Now that Chaz is trying to fight the school’s policy on his medication, he has been asked by students why he isn’t suing the school he tells them “I don’t want your education taken away like mine was.” He says that if he sues the school, that’s money he’s taking away from the education, they are going to get.
In the meantime, with his condition relatively stable due to a more refined prescription regimen and medicinal marijuana supplements; Chaz is trying to live his life as would any other teenager. Despite the struggle and bureaucracy the Moores have faced trying to help their son, they remain strong, fully supporting their son.