MACON, Georgia — A Georgia couple lost custody of their son after successfully treating his severe seizures with marijuana, according to CBS News.
Matthew and Suzeanna Brill were arrested in April and charged with the crime of reckless conduct for giving their 15-year-old seizure-ridden son David marijuana. The couple was jailed for 6 days.
The Georgia Department of Family and Children's Services then took the couple's child from them and placed him in a group home an hour away. The boy had another seizure the same day he was removed from the home. David used to have up to 10 seizures daily but had been seizure-free for more than 2 months after using marijuana for treatment.
“For our son, it was a miracle,” said the boy's father, adding that he had never been seizure-free for so long prior to trying marijuana.
Medical marijuana is currently legal in Washington, D.C. and 29 states, but it remains illegal under federal law. Cannabis is listed in the same class as heroin. It has been proven that marijuana can reduce and eliminate severe seizures that do not respond to prescription medication.
The FDA recommended approval in April of a drug called Epidiolex derived from cannabis for treatment of two severe forms of epilepsy called Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.
Desperate Parents Hindered by Law
The Brills said that they did not want to break the law but had become desperate to treat their son after traditional medications failed and his multiple seizures continued.
Suzeanna said her son would sometimes seize during the night and wake up covered in his own vomit, adding that as the prescription medication dosages were increased, her son began having grand mal seizures.
Cannabidiol is legal to possess in Georgia for medical purposes, but the stringent law makes it nearly impossible for patients to access the drug since it is not legal for sale and cannot legally be prescribed by doctors, nor can it be brought over state lines because of federal law.
Matthew said he illegally bought the marijuana and sampled it for safety and potency prior to giving the drug to David. Suzeanna tested negative for the drug.
“Nothing else was working. I can’t have my kid dying because no one wants to listen,” said Suzeanna.
The couple's lawyer Rachel Kugel said the couple is facing criminal charges and more time in jail.
“Even if they beat the criminal case, they still are definitely in hot water with regard to Child Protective Services,” she said.
The Twiggs County Sheriff defended his actions with an “it-is-what-it-is” type of statement.
“Whatever the law is, it’s my job to enforce it. The fact is that, as of today, marijuana is not legal in the state of Georgia to possess or smoke or use for recreational use. And that’s it,” he said, adding that authorities could have charged the parents with cruelty to children as well but didn't.
The Georgia Division of Family and Children Services released a statement saying case management is working with the parents to restore the family as soon as possible after they received national attention for removing the child when the story was picked up by The New York Times.
David will remain in the group home until a hearing June 14 to determine if he can go home to his parents. A GoFundMe page was set up to help the couple with attorney fees to regain custody of their child.